Governor Ralph Northam (D) said that the sexual assault allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) must be taken seriously, but fails to give a clear answer on the future of an investigation as House Democrats continue to obstruct a bipartisan process to move forward. The remarks come as the two women who have accused Fairfax went public with interviews this week.
“It takes a lot of courage for women to step forward and talk about these issues,” Northam said in a report from NBC 12. “They need to be heard, but we need to get to the truth. An investigation needs to move forward and find the truth, and that’s what I support.”
Fairfax is alleged to have sexually assaulted Dr. Tyson in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Committee conference in Boston, Massachusetts. She came forward with her account of the incident in very graphic detail in early February, which was reported by the New York Times.
In an interview that aired Monday with CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King, Dr. Tyson said tearfully, “In my ideal world, I’d want him to resign. The Virginia people need to know who it is that they elected. They need to know.”
The following day, Wilson, the second woman to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault, said during her interview with King that the “#MeToo movement” gave her hope to come forward. “There’s this expectation that we [black women] are supposed to protect our black men at all costs, and there’s been this idea that…it’s just something we’re supposed to grin and bear.”
In 2000, while Fairfax was a senior at Duke University, Wilson, a junior at the time, claims that Fairfax raped her in a “premeditated and aggressive” fashion. She came forward just days after Dr. Tyson.
Fairfax has ignored the widespread calls for his resignation from nearly every member of Virginia’s Democratic Party, and has adamantly expressed that he is innocent, even taking two polygraphs tests, which his attorney, Barry Pollack, asserted that they prove the “allegations are false and that he engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever.”
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) released a statement on Tuesday charging that while “Republicans are seeking a bipartisan hearing; Democrats in the House of Delegates are refusing to allow that to happen.”
“Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson are prepared to share their accounts at a legislative hearing, but only if there is bipartisan cooperation to conduct the hearing,” Speaker Cox added. “We stand ready to proceed, and hope that our Democratic colleagues reconsider the consequences of their decision.”
On Wednesday, Fairfax ratcheted up his fight against the allegations by releasing the results of polygraph tests and calling for law enforcement officers in North Carolina and Massachusetts to conduct investigations into the accusations. The lieutenant governor has even called for an FBI investigation, even though, as a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, he knows that the federal agency has no jurisdiction over the situation.
Moreover, polygraph tests are not admissible in court. The American Psychological Association states that “there is little evidence that polygraph tests can accurately detect lies,” but assess only “autonomic arousal” when questions are asked.
Nevertheless, if Governor Northam truly supports an investigation, he should move his party away from obstruction and grant Dr. Tyson, Ms. Watson, and Lieutenant Governor Fairfax due process with the bipartisan legislative hearing House Republicans have offered.