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Fairfax Plans Lawsuit Over Sex Assault Claims

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax speaks with reporters in February. Fairfax has called the sexual assault allegations against him a "smear".
Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax speaks with reporters in February. Fairfax has called the sexual assault allegations against him a "smear".

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax plans to sue at least one of the women who accused him of sexual assault.

Vanessa Tyson said Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Meredith Watson accuses Fairfax of raping her while the two were students at Duke University in 2000. Fairfax denies both of those allegations.

Lauren Burke, a spokeswoman for Fairfax said Wednesday that Tyson had 15 years to initiate a criminal complaint against Fairfax in Boston, but has allowed the statute of limitations to expire. Burke said that deadline prompted Fairfax to move to file a civil lawsuit against Tyson, and possibly Watson in the coming weeks.

“The only way to get this investigated in an impartial way in our view was a law enforcement investigation,” Burke said. “But if that is no longer an option in Boston, clearly he would have to consider legal actions.”

Attorneys for Tyson issued a statement late Wednesday that said Fairfax’ claims that Tyson allowed the statute of limitations on possible criminal charges against him to expire is incorrect.

“As confirmed to us by a prosecutor in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office on February 13, 2019, the 15-year statute of limitations does not run while the defendant resides outside of Massachusetts,” the statement said.

Tyson’s attorneys added that their client shouldn't have to file criminal charges in order to be believed.

“It also seems that Lt. Governor Fairfax will continue to malign his accusers no matter what choice they make,” the statement said. “On February 14, 2019, the Lieutenant Governor’s spokesperson threatened that Lt. Governor Fairfax would take legal action against Dr. Tyson if she pressed criminal charges against him in Massachusetts. Now he threatens to sue her for not filing criminal charges.”

Fairfax’ accusers have repeatedly asked for a bi-partisan hearing before the Virginia General Assembly at which they could publicly testify. Democrats have declined to proceed with such a hearing, arguing it would be too political.

 

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Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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