Virginia deputy governor faces new accuser

Virginia Lt gov Justin FairfaxImage copyright
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Mr Fairfax has now been accused of sexual assault by two women

A second woman has come forward to accuse the deputy governor of scandal-plagued Virginia of sexual assault.

Meredith Watson alleges Lt Governor Justin Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University in North Carolina.

Mr Fairfax, a Democrat, has denied the latest allegation, saying he is the victim of a smear campaign.

The governor of Virginia and state’s attorney general are meanwhile both embroiled in racism rows.

Mr Fairfax’s first accuser, Vanessa Tyson, came forward last week to allege he forced her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room at the Democratic party convention in Boston in 2004.

On Friday, a law firm representing the second woman, Meredith Watson, issued a statement on her behalf outlining her allegation.

She said “Mr Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive” and the details “are similar to those described by Dr Vanessa Tyson”.

According to Ms Watson’s legal representatives Smith Mullin, former classmates have provided statements corroborating Ms Watson’s allegations and stating that she “immediately told friends that Mr Fairfax had raped her”.

She says she was friends with Mr Fairfax while they studied at Duke University, but that they never had a romantic relationship.

Ms Watson is not seeking any damages, her lawyer says, but “came forward out of a strong sense of civic duty” and hopes Mr Fairfax will resign from public office.

Mr Fairfax, 39, said in a statement to US media: “I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever.”

He has demanded a full investigation into the accusations to “clear my good name” and added that he will not resign.

“I have passed two full field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before.”

“It is obvious that a vicious and co-ordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me.”

“I will not resign.”

The state’s former governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, said on Friday that the allegations against Mr Fairfax “are serious and credible” and called for his “immediate resignation”.

On the eve of the second allegation, Virginia’s Democratic congressional delegation said they were “deeply disturbed” by Prof Tyson’s accusation, but stopped short of calling for Mr Fairfax’s resignation.

Another Virginia Democrat, Bobby Scott, told US media on Thursday that Prof Tyson had over a year ago told him some details about the alleged assault.

Since then, two of Prof Tyson’s colleagues and several unnamed friends have told the New York Times that she had relayed the incident to them in the last two years.

Hundreds of academics have also signed a letter in support of Prof Tyson, according to the Times.

Mr Fairfax has insisted his encounter with Prof Tyson was “100% consensual”.

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