Virginia Democratic Rep. Robert C. Scott became aware roughly a year ago, during the height of the #MeToo movement, of the sexual assault allegation that has surfaced against commonwealth Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, according to a news account.
Fairfax’s accuser, Vanessa Tyson, told Scott, whom she has known for about a decade, directly, according to an ABC News report and a statement from the congressman.
Fairfax has strongly denied the claim that he forced Tyson to administer oral sex to him at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. The encounter was consensual, he has said.
Scott issued a generic statement supporting Tyson, whom he called a “friend.”
“Allegations of sexual assault need to be taken seriously. I have known Professor Tyson for approximately a decade and she is a friend. She deserves the opportunity to have her story heard,” Scott said in the statement to ABC.
Scott first learned of the allegation that Fairfax assaulted Tyson in late December 2017 or early January 2018. Tyson told Scott that she had gone to the Washington Post with her story and that she had told the Post to use Scott as someone who could attest to her character, ABC reported, citing aides with knowledge of the communications.
ABC’s sources did not know what Scott did with the information about the allegation after that, though he did agree to speak with the Post.
Fairfax is one of three top commonwealth officials in Virginia — all Democrats — who are facing public relations disasters.
Democratic federal lawmakers and commonwealth leaders have called on Gov. Ralph Northam to resign after news outlets discovered his medical school yearbook page that shows one person wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume and another in blackface.
Northam has disputed that he was one of the people in costume.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring acknowledged Wednesday that he had also worn blackface as an undergraduate student at a party where he and his friends dressed up like their favorite rappers, including Kurtis Blow.
In a statement Wednesday, Tyson elaborated on the alleged encounter with Fairfax in 2004, which she said began with “consensual kissing” in his hotel room but soon turned uncomfortable for her as he forced her to perform oral sex on him as she “cried and gagged.”
Tyson said she issued the statement to counter Fairfax’s attempts to discredit her after the accusation emerged in the media.
“My only motive in speaking now is to refute Mr. Fairfax’s falsehoods and aspersions of my character, and to provide what I believe is important information for Virginians to have as they make critical decisions that involve Mr. Fairfax,” she said.
Fairfax has said that he takes the allegation very seriously but that the encounter in 2004 was “100 percent consensual.”
“Regarding the allegation that has been made against me — while this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously,” Fairfax said in a statement Wednesday.
“This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me.”
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