Democrat Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Monday hinted that Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) is responsible for the resurfacing of sexual assault allegation against him to keep his post.
The alleged incident purportedly occurred during the 2004 Democrat National Convention in Boston, Massachusettes.
The Washington Post reported Monday that it was approached by a woman accusing Fairfax in 2017 and investigated the claim, yet never published a story for lack of any independent evidence. The Post said the woman had not told anyone about it, and the account could not be corroborated while Fairfax denied it. The paper was unable to find other similar allegations against him among people who knew him in college, law school or in politics.
The allegations were first reported by Big League Politics, the news outlet that first published the yearbook image.
Asked by a reporter if he suspects Northam is responsible for the allegation’s revival, Fairfax responded: “Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out?”
In a statement shared to his official Twitter account, Fairfax denied the allegation, maintaining that he “has never assaulted anyone – ever – in any way, shape or form.”
— Justin Fairfax (@LGJustinFairfax) February 4, 2019
“Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect,” the statement said. “This is part of the sad and dark politics that the Lt. Governor has dedicated himself to helping Virginia and the nation rise above,” it continued.
Lastly, the statement warned the Fairfax would wage “appropriate legal action against those attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation.”
Later in the day, the Washington Post pushed back, saying Fairfax was inaccurate in his claim that the paper had found “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations.”
Northam consulted with top administration officials Monday about whether he should stay in office or resign amid an uproar over a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
Virtually all of the state’s Democratic establishment — and Republican leaders, too — turned against the 59-year-old Democrat after the picture surfaced of someone in blackface next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.
Northam stayed out of sight as he met with his Cabinet and senior staff, following a meeting the night before with minority officials in his administration. The governor wanted to hear their assessment of whether it is 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, according to reports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.