A second woman has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, an allegation he quickly denied Friday that nonetheless prompted a spate of calls from prominent political figures for him to resign.
In a statement from her lawyer Friday, the woman, Meredith Watson, alleged that Fairfax raped her when they were both students at Duke University in 2000. She called on Fairfax, a Democrat, to resign.
The “attack was premeditated and aggressive,” said the lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith of the firm of Smith Mullin in Montclair, New Jersey. She described Fairfax and Watson as friends who never dated.
“Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession,” Smith said in the statement. “Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.”
Earlier this week, Fairfax denied an accusation from Vanessa Tyson that he forced her to perform oral sex on him during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. On Friday, he issued a statement pushing back on the latest allegation as well.
“I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” Fairfax 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,” he added. “It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me. I will not resign.”
Later Friday, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination, called on Fairfax to resign, as did New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is already in that race, and Virginia Democratic Reps. Don Beyer, Donald McEachin, Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, Jennifer Wexton, and Gerry Connolly.
McAuliffe said in a statement that the claims were “serious and credible” and said they warranted Fairfax’s “immediate resignation.”
Smith said the details of Watson’s experience with Fairfax were “similar to those” described by Tyson, who recounted kissing Fairfax willingly but being physically forced, while gagging and crying, into more intimate contact. Fairfax has said his liaison with Tyson was entirely consensual.
“On behalf of our client, we have notified Justin Fairfax through his attorneys that Ms. Watson hopes he will resign from public office,” Smith said.