On Feb. 8, 2018, a second woman came forward claiming she was raped in 2000 at Duke University by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. The accuser stated that the rape occurred while they were students.
The alleged victim’s lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, released a statement stating that her client, Meredith Watson, felt it was her civic duty to tell her story after Vanessa C. Tyson came forward saying Fairfax assaulted her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
She stressed that Watson did not seek any financial retribution, did not want to relive the rape or become a media personality.
Smith said that the details of Watson’s attack were similar to Tyson. The rape was described in the statement as “premeditated and aggressive.” She continued her story, stating that Fairfax and Watson were friends at Duke but did not have a romantic relationship and did not date.
Fairfax immediately released a statement demanding that he wants a full investigation. He furthermore stated that he had nothing to hide and that the accusations were false and unsubstantiated. Fairfax said that he passed two FBI full-field background checks during his last two highly contested elections and at that time the accusations were never raised. He also promised he would clear his name.
At the time of Tyson’s revelation, Fairfax said that he had a consensual sexual encounter with Tyson, and believed he is a victim of a smear campaign.
Kaneedreck Adams attended Duke University with Watson and lived in the same dormitory. She said that in 2000, Watson came to her crying. Adams, an attorney, said Watson was upset at the time and told her she was raped by a man named Justin. Watson described the rape to her friend saying she could not speak. She tried to get up several times and he kept pushing her down. Watson reported she told him to stop, he would not and he kept pushing her down. The attack allegedly took place at a fraternity house.
Adams said she was also friends with Fairfax, and they knew he was interested in politics. Fairfax was friendly and had the nickname “sunshine.” Being one year ahead of the ladies in school, she considered him a charming and nice guy.
Watson’s attorney provided the press with email correspondence between Milagros Joye Brown and Watson, both Duke students. Brown invited Watson and a group of friends to a fundraiser being held for Fairfax to help him raise funds for his lieutenant governor campaign.
On Oct. 26, 2016, Watson wrote back:
Molly, Justin raped me in college, and I don’t want to hear anything about him. Please, please, please remove me from any future emails about him, please.
On Friday after Watson’s allegations were released, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe issued a statement saying:
The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible. It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. I call for his immediate resignation.
39-year-old Fairfax is a former prosecutor. He is the second African American in Virginia to hold statewide office. Considered an upcoming star in the Democratic Party, he is the great-great-great-grandson of a slave. Fairfax is best known for protesting the Virginia Senate’s tribute to Robert E. Lee.
The lieutenant governor has said his name would be cleared. Fairfax also stated he would not resign.
Written by Barbara Sobel
The New York Times: Second Woman Accuses Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia of Sexual Assault
The Washington Post: Second woman accuses Va. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault
Fox 5: Second woman accuses Virginia Lieutenant Governor of sexual assault
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