NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A woman accusing Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault told Rep. Bobby Scott of an allegation against Fairfax in 2017, according to a spokesperson for Scott.
Austin Barbera, Scott’s press secretery, told 10 On Your Side Vanessa Tyson emailed Scott Oct. 20, 2017, expressing that she was “not a fan” of Fairfax, who was then a candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia.
Barbera said Tyson told Scott in an exchange of text messages in December 2017 that Fairfax had a “MeToo allegation” against him — but did not describe the allegation or who was involved.
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Scott’s aids later learned it was Tyson who was involved in the allegation against Fairfaix, Barbera said.
According to Barbera, Scott did not learn the “the full scope of the allegation” against Fairfax until after Tyson issued a detailed statement on Wednesday.
In the statement, Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Fairfax has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying that the encounter was consensual and that he is the victim of a strategically timed political smear.
Scott said in a statement issued Thursday, “Allegations of sexual assault need to be taken seriously. I have known Professor Tyson for approximately a decade and she is a friend. She deserves the opportunity to have her story heard.”
The allegations come as scandal has engulfed Virginia’s other two top elected officials.
Gov. Ralph Northam’s career was already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook when Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that he, too, wore blackface once as a teenager.
The crisis threatens to bring down all three of the politicians, all of them Democrats. If Northam resigns, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax stands to become Virginia’s second black governor. Herring is next in the line of succession, followed by House Speaker Kirk Cox, a conservative Republican.
Everyone in Richmond, it seemed, was waiting Thursday for Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus to respond to the scandal.