Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said if the rape allegations against his lieutenant governor are true, then Justin Fairfax should resign his office.
Northam, who is staying in the gubernatorial mansion after his own blackface photo scandal rocked the state, said Fairfax should go.
‘If these accusations are determined to be true, I don’t think he’s going to have any other option but to resign,’ he told CBS News.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said if the allegations against his lieutenant governor are true, then Justin Fairfax should resign his office
A second woman has accused Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Justin Fairfax of rape
Asked if Fairfax should go ahead and resign, Northam said: ‘That’s going to be a decision that he needs to make.’
Fairfax was one of the few Democrats not to call for Northam’s resignation from the start. He would have been elevated to the gubernatorial mansion if Northam resigned.
Northam said he supported Fairfax’s call for an investigation into the allegations.
‘I can only imagine that it must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and and talk about these things that are just so hurtful. And these accusations are very, very serious. They need to be taken seriously. As you know, Governor Fairfax has called for an investigation. I really think where we are now, we need to get to the truth,’ he said.
Northam is in recovery mode after a photo was revealed in his 1984 medical yearbook of a man in blackface. He has defied the calls of Democratic leaders with his decision to remain in office.
Northam immediately apologized for appearing in the photograph, saying he could not ‘undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.’
The next day, however, in a bizarre press conference the governor reversed course and said he wasn’t in the picture. He said he would remember dressing in that because he remembered he once dressed in blackface as Michael Jackson and noted the make up used to color his skin was difficult to remove.
The head-scratching explanation did not help his cause although the political pressure eased after the allegations against Fairfax came out and state Attorney General Mark Herring admitted he had worn blackface in the past too.
The potentially career ending scandals involving the top three Democrats in the state has left the political establishment reeling.
On Friday, a second woman accused Fairfax of rape.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, greets, Bishop Felton Hawkins, Full Gospel Kingdom Church, Newport News, right, as well as State Sen. Lionel Spruill, Sr., D-Chesapeake, front, prior to the start of the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Friday
In a letter released by her lawyer on Friday, Watson called for Fairfax’s resignation claiming he sexually assaulted her in 2000
The attack allegedly took place in 2000 when Watson and Fairfax were students at Duke University. Pictured above is Fairfax in his university yearbook photo
Meredith Watson released a letter through her lawyer on Friday calling for Fairfax’s resignation claiming he sexually assaulted her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University.
‘Mr. Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive. The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship,’ the letter states.
Watson’s attorney does not provide specific details of the attack but states the assault was ‘similar’ to that of Vanessa Tyson, who on Wednesday, publicly accused Fairfax of raping her in 2004.
Watson was ‘upset’ to learn Fairfax, 39, had assaulted another woman and reluctantly decided to come forward ‘out of a strong sense of civic duty.’
‘At this time, Ms Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,’ the letter continued.
Watson has provided emails and Facebook messages with friends and classmates which her lawyer says prove she told them of the incident immediately after it happened.
Those witnesses have also provided statements corroborating Watson’s allegations.
Her lawyer said her client is not looking to become a media personality nor is she seeking financial damages, but rather, is hoping Fairfax will resign.
Stanford University fellow Vanessa Tyson suggested in a private Facebook post that Virignia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004; she said Wednesday that he ‘forced me to perform oral sex on him’
This photograph, from Tyson’s Twitter account, shows the college professor at a conference of the American Politicla Science Association
Fairfax released a statement shortly after the allegations emerged saying he does not intend to step down.
‘I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever,’ he said.
‘I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.
‘I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide. I have passed two full field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before.
‘It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me.
‘I will not resign.’
Fairfax is also dealing with the fallout of the first allegation against him.
Vanessa Tyson alleged on Wednesday that Fairfax raped her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Tyson issued a stinging statement through her lawyers, saying: ‘What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth.’
Vanessa Tyson, (pictured) publicly accused Fairfax of raping her in 2004
‘Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.
‘I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent.’
Democratic Rep; Jennifer Wexton became the first member of Virginia’s congressional delegation to weigh in on the Fairfax scandal, tweeting Wednesday afternoon: ‘I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson.’
Wexton told CBS on Sunday Fairfax cannot stay in office.
‘Elected leaders need to be held to a higher standard and where there are credible allegations- corroborated allegations- of serious sexual assault. We’re talking about rape and forcible sodomy. This is something that impacts his ability to lead in future,’ she said on ‘Face the Nation.’
The 39-year-old Fairfax’s political future seemed to unravel in slow-motion on Wednesday as sources told NBC News that he had snapped out of his normal mild manner to condemn Tyson during a private meeting with staff – shouting: ‘F**k that b***h!’
Lawrence Roberts, Fairfax’s chief of staff, insisted to a Washington Post reporter that the lieutenant governor never said those words: ‘Absolutely not true. I was there.’