Fairfax is starting to look more guilty
A day ago, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax looked like he might survive politically. Now, his odds look much weaker.
Until today, Fairfax faced one compelling, but not contemporaneously corroborated, allegation of sexual assault from Vanessa Tyson, a liberal feminist professor whom he met at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Given that he was sandwiched in the gubernatorial succession between two separate Democrats accused of wearing blackface, he might have survived. For the better part of a week, it’s been a three-way stalemate among a governor publicly lambasted by the entire Democratic party, his almost equally aggrieved third-in-line state attorney general, and Fairfax, on whom Democrats have largely maintained radio silence. After all, thought many Democrats, why stand up for the black feminist professor levying a serious assault allegation against the black lieutenant governor when they could stick it to the boring old white men instead?
Well, silence won’t suffice much longer. A second woman, Meredith Watson, has come forward with an allegation that Fairfax raped her in a “premeditated and aggressive assault” when they were both classmates at Duke University. The possible death knell for Fairfax’s political (and maybe legal) fate? Watson told people of the incident at the time, and they have now gone on the record to confirm that not only did she allege rape back then, but that she specifically named Fairfax.
Earlier this week, I deemed Tyson’s allegation credible — due to the undisputed fact that she and Fairfax did have an encounter of some sort at the time and place she alleges — but not yet reaching the preponderance of the evidence. After all, she didn’t tell anyone about her assault until 2017, and the press hadn’t interviewed any of them to determine whether her story was consistent.
Watson’s allegation, on the contrary, is about as watertight as two-decade-old account can be without an actual rape kit or video evidence. Barring the emergence of any extraordinary exculpatory information, Watson’s allegation, especially combined with Tyson’s, probably fulfills the standard of “preponderance of the evidence.”
To the untrained eye, Fairfax now looks more likely to have raped at least one woman, and maybe two. He’s not qualified for the governor’s mansion, let alone civil society. It’s time for him to resign, and far past time for Democrats to start standing up for women, not just when it’s politically expedient for them to do so.