By: Ed O'Keefe | CBS News
February 11, 2019
Four staffers to Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax have quit in the wake of allegations of sexual assault and rape made against him days ago. Two of the three employees on Fairfax's state payroll and two employees working for his political action committee (PAC) have departed. As a part-time lieutenant governor, Fairfax keeps a small team of aides working on his behalf in Richmond.
"The Lt. Governor appreciates the amazing service of his former staff members. Their work and dedication was incredible. He certainly wishes them well and appreciates their service to the Commonwealth of Virginia," said his political spokeswoman, Lauren Burke, who is staying on.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported details of the departures, noting that one of the employees who left was Dave Mills, the executive director of Fairfax's PAC We Rise Together. Mills is married to Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, whose name has been mentioned as a candidate to replace Fairfax should he be forced to step down.
Last week, Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of political science at Scripps College in Claremont, California, alleged Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. In a detailed public statement, Tyson described the alleged assault, claiming Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him. Fairfax said their interaction was consensual.
On Friday, a second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward to accuse Fairfax of raping her in North Carolina, while both were students at Duke University in 2000.
Fairfax has forcefully denied both allegations. He said he heard from Tyson after their encounter and also said in a statement that he and Watson were friends at Duke. When he was an unmarried law student there, according to Fairfax, "I had a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation." His statement continued, "At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years." He also said the "first indication" he had that what happened between them had "made her uncomfortable" was when he was asked about the incident by a national media organization.
The lieutenant governor says he has nothing to hide and demanded an investigation. Fairfax says he will not resign. The FBI has not commented on Fairfax's request.
Gov. Ralph Northam, who is also confronting controversy over a racist photo on his med school yearbook page and subsequent admission he once darkened his face, also appeared to support an investigation, but he also told "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King that if the accusations against Fairfax are true, "I don't think he's going to have any other option but to resign."
"I can only imagine that it must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and and talk about these things that are just- are just so hurtful. And these accusations are very, very serious. They need to be taken seriously. As you know, Governor Fairfax has called for an investigation. I really think where we are now, we need to get to the truth," Northam said Sunday.