Fairfax accuser to detail allegations to Boston prosecutors
BOSTON (AP) — A woman who accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in Boston nearly 15 years ago will meet with prosecutors to discuss her allegations, her attorney said Wednesday.
Vanessa Tyson will meet with members of the Suffolk County district attorney’s office to detail her accusations against Fairfax, attorney Debra Katz said in a statement. It came days after District Attorney Rachael Rollins sent a letter to Tyson’s legal team to inform them that her office is prepared to investigate should Tyson file a criminal complaint.
“Usually in sexual assault cases we are not public in any way, but this individual chose to self-report and issued a statement and has a law firm and I felt compelled quite frankly to make sure that her firm knew that we stand ready, willing and able to assist in any way possible,” Rollins, a Democrat who took office last month, said in an interview Wednesday.
Tyson is one of two women who have accused Fairfax of sexual assault, leading to calls for the Democrat to step down. Tyson publicly accused Fairfax this month of forcing her to perform oral sex in his hotel room at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.
Later, a second woman issued a statement accusing Fairfax of raping her 19 years ago while they were students at Duke University. Meredith Watson also publicly identified herself.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but both women have come forward voluntarily.
Fairfax has emphatically denied both accusations and called for authorities to investigate the women’s claims. He has said he will not resign from office and vowed to clear his name against what he described as a “vicious and coordinated smear campaign” being orchestrated against him.
A spokeswoman for Fairfax said earlier Wednesday that he would cooperate fully with an investigation by Boston’s district attorney if a complaint is filed.
“In that event, the Lt. Governor will explore all options with regard to filing his own criminal complaint in response to the filing of a false criminal complaint against him,” spokeswoman Lauren Burke said.
Tyson’s attorney said she spoke with Rollins on Wednesday afternoon and they are working to schedule a meeting. She also blasted Fairfax’s suggestion that he would consider bringing charges against Tyson if she filed a complaint.
“This is a clear effort to obstruct justice,” Katz said. “Dr. Tyson will not be bullied and she will not be deterred by such threats.”
Under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations is 15 years for rape and several related crimes, an interval that would expire this summer for Tyson’s accusation. But Rollins said her office could argue that the clock for the statute of limitations paused when Fairfax left Massachusetts, meaning Tyson would have even more time to file a complaint.
Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry didn’t immediately respond to messages asking whether the second accuser has approached her office about investigating the 2000 accusation at Duke University.
Duke campus police have no criminal reports naming Fairfax, university spokesman Keith Lawrence said Wednesday. The Durham Police Department has no record that any police report was filed at the time.
North Carolina law doesn’t include a statute of limitations for prosecuting felonies, according to a University of North Carolina criminal law blog, though defendants can argue certain delays violate due process rights.
Associated Press reporters Julie Pace in Washington, Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia, and Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.
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