Presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said Friday she believes the accusers of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-VA) and called on the embattled Virginia Democrat to resign.
“This new allegation from Meredith Watson that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax raped her, corroborated by at least two named individuals in interviews and emails, is sickening and horrendous,” Gillibrand said in a statement shared to Twitter. “I believe Meredith Watson and Dr. Tyson, and it was extremely brave for them to come forward. Mr. Fairfax should resign and no longer serve the Commonwealth of Virginia”
My statement below on Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax: pic.twitter.com/chu4oSdnbh
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 8, 2019
Earlier Friday, Watson, through her lawyer, issued a statement detailing her allegation of sexual assault, accusing Fairfax of raping her while the two were students at Duke University in 2000. Watson said the two were friends at the time of the incident, but were not romantically involved.
“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” said Nancy Erika Smith, Watson’s lawyer. “She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.”
According to Watson, she told classmates about the alleged assault immediately after it occurred and shared her account with others via email and Facebook.
In a statement, Fairfax called the accusation an “unsubstantiated allegation” and vowed to remain in his post. “I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” he 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.”
Fairfax’s first accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, went public with her allegation Wednesday, accusing him of sexually assaulted her during the 2004 Democrat National Convention in Boston. Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to “perform oral sex on him” after consensual kissing.
Tyson said in a statement through her law firm Katz Marshall & Banks:
With tremendous anguish, I am now sharing this information about my experience and setting the record straight. It has been extremely difficult to relive that traumatic experience from 2004. Mr. Fairfax has tried to brand me as a liar to a national audience, in service to his political ambitions, and has threatened litigation. Given his false assertions, I’m compelled to make clear what happened.
Joining Gillibrand in calling for Fairfax to reign is 2020 candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who said the Virginia Democrat lost his ability to lead the state. “The multiple detailed allegations against the Lt. Gov. of Virginia are deeply troubling,” Booker said. “They are serious, credible, and corroborated by others. It is no longer appropriate for him to serve. He should resign.”