Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax denied Monday that he forced a woman into oral sex in hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic national convention – a claim which further plunged the state’s two top Democrats into crisis.
His denial came as the state’s governor, Ralph Northam, continued to refuse to resign over wearing blackface and met his cabinet for talks in the wake of his admission that he covered his face in shoe polish to impersonate Michael Jackson.
Fairfax, 39, was revealed late Sunday to be have been accused of forcing oral sex during a hotel room encounter when he was campaigning for John Kerry’s failed presidential bid.
On Monday he denied assaulting anyone and claimed he was the focus of a ‘smear.’
He also claimed in a written statement that the Washington Post had investigated the claim when he ran for lieutenant governor but had not pursued it because of ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations.’
But within hours that claim was called ‘incorrect’ by the Washington Post, which said it had not been able to corroborate either version and had not found any ‘red flags’ in the woman’s account.
Stanford University fellow Vanessa Tyson reportedly suggested in a private Facebook post that Fairfax sexually assaulted her. The post was obtained by Big League Politics. Her description lines up with Justin Fairfax, the Virginia lieutenant general’s biography
Denial: Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax was at the center of a frenzy in the state’s Capitol in Richmond as e denied forcing a woman into oral sex – and was asked whether the governor should resign for wearing blackface
Unprecedented: Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax declined to defend the governor, Ralph Northam, but was himself engulfed in his own scandal with accusations of forced sex and lies
Incorrect: The Washington Post said that Justin Fairfax was incorrect in his statement denying he had committed a sexual assault
Ralph Northam in a Saturday press conference denied being in a racist photograph in his 1984 school yearbook and is refusing all calls to step down
The Post did not name the woman, but the website Big League Politics -which first revealed how Northam had a picture on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface beside a man in a KKK outfit – revealed how Vanessa Tyson, a Stanford academic, had hinted at accusing Fairfax of assault.
It published a private social media posting made on Sunday, which Tyson was said to have given permission to make public, which said: ‘Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC Convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer.
‘You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day uo find out he’s the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and we wins that election in November 2017.
‘Then by some strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll get a VERY BIG promotion.’
Tyson lives in Los Angeles, roughly 3,000 miles from Virginia, and the biographical details align with Fairfax.
She is a Scripps College professor who is currently a Stanford fellow. Her fellowship is focusing, according to the college’s website, on ‘politics and policies surrounding sexual violence against women and children in the United States.
‘More specifically, she will explore political discourse surrounding sexual assault, corresponding policies, and the unique identities of sexual assault survivors.’
It notes that Tyson, a Princeton and University of Chicago graduate, has volunteered as an advocate for sexual violence awareness and prevention. DailyMail.com has reached out to her for comment.
Fairfax and the Washington Post both confirmed that the newspaper investigated allegations of an assault at the convention – although neither named the alleged victim.
The account given in the Post said that the woman was left ‘crying and shaken.’
‘She said Fairfax guided her to the bed, where they continued kissing, and then at one point she realized she could not move her neck,’ the newspaper reported.
‘She said Fairfax used his strength to force her to perform oral sex.’
The Washington Post said Monday that it was approached by the woman in 2017 and carefully investigated but never published a story for lack of any independent evidence.
Outspoken: Vanessa Tyson – whose social media post calling herself a sex assault survivor aligns with the Washington Post investigation into VA Lt Gov Justin Fairfax for sex assault – has used Twitter to pass comment on issues around sexual assault, including the Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearing
The Post said the woman had not told anyone about it, the account could not be corroborated, Fairfax denied it, and the Post was unable to find other similar allegations against him among people who knew him in college, law school or in politics.
WUSA9 was also aware of the claim and decided against airing it after it could not corroborate the story, the news channel said.
A statement from his office early Monday morning denied the charge and said, ‘Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect.
‘He has never assaulted anyone – ever – in any way, shape, or form.’
At the state capitol, Fairfax told reporters it was a ‘smear.’
He was speaking as Northam held talks with his cabinet – but not Fairfax – over whether he should quit after the blackface revelations.
He had held on over the weekend despite a disastrous three days which saw him first admit he was in the yearbook picture, then deny it, then admit he put on shoe polish to impersonate Michael Jackson, use a press conference to say it was difficult to get off, and only be stopped by his wife from Moonwalking, and be called on to resign by dozens of senior Democrats.
Fairfax is poised to take over for Northam if the Virginia governor has to resign.
Fairfax has experienced a brief, meteoric rise through Virginia politics. His supporters have touted him as a fresh face whose charisma has allowed him to connect with voters. His detractors suggest he is unproven and inexperienced.
His ascension could mean that the racial scandal dogging Northam would end with an African-American governor trying to lead the Democratic Party to a takeover of the legislature in November and potentially, through a quirk of law, being able to serve more than one term.
If Fairfax also falls over the sexual assault allegations, Attorney General Mark Herring would be put in charge. He is a Democrat so far unaffected by the dual scandals.
The job moves next to the Speaker of the House of Delegates – a Republican – before a vote in the legislative body to fill the vacancy if the aforementioned office-holders are unable to do the job.
Virginia’s House speaker, Kirk Cox,, said Monday that the body is unlikely to impeach Northam, moving the pressure back to the governor’s mansion.
The state’s constitution lists ‘malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, or other high crime or misdemeanor’ as reasons for impeachment.
Cox said that ‘regardless of the veracity of the photograph the governor has lost the confidence of the people and cannot effectively govern,’ and should therefore resign.
President Donald Trump has not called on Northam to resign, and he has not commented on the allegations against Fairfax.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said she had not talked to the president about the newest comments and pointed to tweets he sent over the weekend, as it pertains to Northam.
‘He just has made clear the way he feels about it. It is confounding to many people, it turns out, that the sitting governor, the Democrat in Virginia, is still there despite the calls from many leaders and close to all the 2020 aspirants on the Democratic side have called on him to resign,’ she said.
Time to go: Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam was the focus of protests in Richmond
Pressure point: Ralph Northam has now hung on since Friday’s revelation of the contents of his yearbook page and is facing more calls to go
A photo on Northam’s yearbook page depicts a man in blackface and another in a KKK robe. Northam said he felt sick when he saw the image recently, despite covering his face in shoe polish to emulate Michael Jackson
Pressed by DailyMail.com to unequivocally answer the resignation question, she said: ‘The president has said he thinks it’s unforgivable and unconscionable – you can go back to his tweet and his words – that this person apologized and then went back and said it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it.’
Protest chants, meanwhile, echoed around Capitol Square in Richmond, VA.
Lobbyists complained they were unable to get legislators to focus on bills. Security guards joked about who was going to be the next governor. Cafeteria workers and members of the cleaning staff shook their heads in wonder.
And banks of news cameras were set up outside the governor’s Executive Mansion.
Northam stayed out of sight as he met with his Cabinet and senior staff to hear their assessment of whether it was feasible for him to stay in office, according to a top administration official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The meetings included frank conversations about the difficulties of governing under such circumstances, the person said.
Calls from lawmakers for Northam’s resignation seemed to ease Monday. Delegate LaMont Bagby, head of the Legislative Black Caucus, said there was little left to say: ‘I’m going to let him breathe a little bit, give him space to make the right decision.’
The president of the NAACP on Sunday joined the chorus of other voices calling on Northam to resign as the pressure mounts on him to leave the gubernatorial mansion in the wake of a racist photo appearing in his medical school yearbook.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson had told ABC’s ‘This Week’ he doesn’t think Northam can survive the scandal surrounding the 1984 photo.
And former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe reiterated his call for his former lieutenant governor to step down and said it was ‘morally’ the right thing to do.
‘I called Ralph on Friday night. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, was my lieutenant governor,’ he said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
‘We worked closely together. We did so many great things working together for the Commonwealth of Virginia. But once that picture with the blackface and the Klansman came out, there is no way you can continue to be the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia,’ he added.
He indicated resignation was ‘morally the only right thing to do.’
Northam has resisted the calls to step down from Democratic Party leaders
including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Both of Virginia’s Senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, joined with the dean of the state’s Congressional delegation, Rep. Bobby Scott, in a rare joint statement calling for Northam to step down.
President Trump also weighed in, calling Northam’s behavior ‘unforgivable.’
Northam said he admitted to being in the photo because didn’t buy his school yearbook and hadn’t seen it but realized on reflection he wasn’t in the picture
The yearbook page from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook is seen above. He claimed he had not bought or seen his yearbook in the last 34 years
The car crash press conference Saturday was not enough to make him quit, however.
The 59-year-old from Nassawadox admitted dressing up as the late singer, wearing similar footwear, a glove and shoe polish to look like an African-American person.
During the excruciating appearance in the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Richmond, he said he later learned from a friend Seth that doing so for a dance competition was indeed inappropriate and he apologized to his friend at the time.
He was 25 when he deemed it okay to cover his face in shiny black wax at least two decades after the Civil Rights movement decried it.
Northam appeared to try to soften the offensive occasion by revealing he won the contest he did it for.
Making his revelation worse, he told attendees the reason why he only wore a ‘little bit’ of shoe polish was because it’s difficult to remove.
‘I don’t know if anybody’s tried this…’ he said to the shocked room. But it didn’t explain why he was wearing blackface to show off his dance talent during the skit.
Northam told the audience during question time: ‘I have discussed this with a person of color. I apologized to him.’
Despite his revelation about donning blackface to do the Moonwalk, Northam said he felt sick after seeing the image of people wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and blackface and would remember if he had done so.
He made the contradictory statement to a room full of people eager to know why he admitted to something he claims now not to have done, but Northam didn’t manage to provide a clear explanation.
‘When my staff showed me the photo in question I had seen it for the first time,’ he claimed. ‘I didn’t purchase the yearbook and didn’t know they appeared on my page. On a yearbook page that belongs to me. It is disgusting.’
Northam added that his former classmates backed up his belief he was not in the photo but said he didn’t ever see the offending photo.
He jumped ahead of people being skeptical by adding: ‘Many people will find this difficult to believe me.’
Ralph Northam’s medical school roommate says governor WASN’T in KKK robe or blackface at infamous photographed Halloween party and instead dressed as a lawyer – although politician claims he wasn’t even there
Ralph Northam’s medical school roommate has backed his claimed that the Virginia governor was not in the racist photo that appeared in their 1984 yearbook – but contradicted the Democratic politician’s claim that he was not at the Halloween party where it was taken.
Rob Marsh, who attended Eastern Virginia Medical School with Northam, said he doesn’t think it was the governor wearing blackface and standing next to a man dressed as a member of the KKK.
‘No, I don’t think it’s him. I don’t think it looks like him. Ralph is thinner than the people in the picture,’ he told WWBT, an NBC station in Richmond, Va.
Ralph Northam in a Saturday press conference denied being in a racist photograph in his 1984 school yearbook, said he didn’t attend the party, and is refusing all calls to step down
Rob Marsh, who attended Eastern Virginia Medical School with Ralph Northam, said it wasn’t the Virginia governor in the racist yearbook photo
Marsh said he was also at the Halloween party and he remembered Northam, a pediatric neurologist, dressed as a lawyer – complete with a suit and briefcase.
‘I was at the Halloween party the governor went to and I know what he was wearing exactly,’ he said. ‘Ralph comes out and I remember he was dressed in a three-piece suit and he had a briefcase.’
Marsh told the news station he saw the photo for the first time with the rest of the country on Friday.
The photo shocked the Virginia political establishment when it appeared and led to several prominent Democrats – including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren – to call for his resignation.
The Virginia governor has resisted those calls thus far. He is hunkered down in Richmond, fighting for his political survival and debating his next move.
He met with his Cabinet early Monday morning, The Washington Post reported, and will meet with other officials as he weighs whether he should resign or battle it out.
Democrats in the state legislature and both Democratic senators from Virginia have also called on Northam to step down.
Republican state Speaker Kirk Cox, who would lead the impeachment process should it come to that, has also called for Northam’s resignation.
‘It had become clear to us by then, regardless of the veracity of the photograph, the governor’s lost the confidence of the people and cannot effectively govern,’ Cox told the Post.
First lady Pam Northam is encouraging her husband to fight to clear his name, the paper reported.
Marsh said he was ‘stunned’ when he saw the picture.
‘I was truly stunned. One, I didn’t recognize that picture, I didn’t know anyone in it and didn’t know where or when it was taken,’ he said.
He also told the news station he believes the photo could have been added to the yearbook as a prank.
He said he’s still in touch with his former roommate and he talked to Northam on Saturday.
‘He’s doing good. I think he was a little stunned. He’s a little bit hurt,’ said Marsh.
Originally Northam apologized for the photo but a day later he denied it was him, saying he was sure he didn’t wear that costume because he remembered wearing black face on another occasion – in a performance as Michael Jackson in a dance competition.