Justin Fairfax calls rape accusations political lynching
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, beset by rape accusations and facing a House inquiry, on Sunday described himself as a victim of a “political lynching.”
Mr. Fairfax, who is black, defended his reputation and cautioned against snap judgments for political expediency in a surprise speech shortly before the state Senate adjourned for the year.
“If we go backwards in a rush to judgment, and we allow for political lynchings without any due process, any facts, any evidence being heard, then I think we do a disservice to this very body in which we all serve,” the Democrat said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Mr. Faifax, who claims the sex with both of his accusers was consensual, also said,“the truth is on my side.”
Republican House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert said Fairfax’s comments about lynchings were highly inappropriate.
“That is the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric he could have invoked,” Mr. Gilbert told The Associated Press. “It’s entirely appropriate for him to talk about due process and we would intend to offer him every ounce of it, and he’s welcome to take advantage of that anytime he would like.”
Mr. Fairfax’s unexpected speech came two days after House Republicans announced plans for a public hearing to address the #MeToo-style allegations that have dogged the lieutenant governor for three weeks.
Two separate allegations of rape, both from more than a decade ago, hit Mr. Fairfax as he became the heir apparent to Gov. Ralph Northam, who was being urged to resign because he wore blackface in the 1980s.
But until Friday, despite widespread calls for Mr. Fairfax also to resign, lawmakers from both parties had hesitated to start impeachment hearings or launch a committee probe.
Vanessa Tyson, a California college professor, first came forward with anallegationthat Mr. Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him when they met as campaign aides at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Meredith Watson then told her story of a similar attack by Mr. Fairfax in 2000 when they were students at Duke University.
The rape allegations added to a whirlwind of controversy for Virginia’s top elected Democrats.
Mr. Northam and Attorney General Mark Harris are both accused of racism after both admitted wearing blackface in the 1980s.
The governor and lieutenant governor bucked widespread calls to resign, including from members of their own party and most Democratic presidential candidates.
The rape accusations against Mr. Fairfax, however, have ramifications beyond his political career. He potentially faces criminal charges and, if convicted, up to 20 or 25 years in prison in Massachusetts and North Carolina, respectively.