As scandal engulfs Virginia’s top Democrats, a woman has accused Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Fairfax insists that the encounter was “100% consensual,” but 2020 Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said the woman’s story “reads as a credible account” and called for a further investigation.
Questioned by reporters on Thursday, Harris said, “I think there should be an investigation to determine what happened.”
“The letter written by the woman reads as a credible account, and I think there should be an investigation to get to the bottom of it and determine the facts,” she said. Watch below:
Sen. Kamala Harris on the sexual assault allegations against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax: “A letter written by the woman reads as a credible account. And I think there should be an investigation to get to the bottom of it and determine the facts.” pic.twitter.com/8dY2AKUzQj
— Beatrice-Elizabeth Peterson (@MissBeaE) February 7, 2019
Another 2020 presidential candidate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also described Tyson’s account as “deeply disturbing and credible” and called for an investigation.
Vanessa Tyson, now a professor at Scripps College in Claremont, California, accused Fairfax of assaulting her in his hotel room after they struck up an acquaintance at the 2004 convention. “What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” she wrote in her statement.
Tyson says she brought her story to the Washington Post last spring, but the Post refused to publish it. But when it became likely that Fairfax might become the next governor of Virginia if Gov. Ralph Northam resigned, she says she vented about the alleged assault in a Facebook post — and suddenly journalists were interested.
The Democrats find themselves in a tight spot as the “believe women” hysteria from last fall’s Kavanaugh hearings comes back to haunt them. Other than Harris and Gillibrand, most seem to be hoping that the Fairfax allegation gets lost in the shuffle.
It’s a dramatic change of tune from just a few months ago, when prominent Democrats loudly proclaimed they “believed” Christine Blasey Ford’s uncorroborated assault accusation against Brett Kavanaugh — evidence or no evidence.
Ironically, Fairfax accuser Tyson has hired the same law firm that represented Ford during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, while Fairfax has turned to the same legal team that represented Kavanaugh.
Virginians need to decide
On whether Virginia’s other two top Democratic officials, Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, who both admitted to wearing blackface in the past, should resign, Harris’ tone was noticeably softened compared to her initial reaction last week, when she said Northam “should step aside.”
“The most important thing that needs to happen is that the people of Virginia need to make that decision. That’s where I am on it,” Harris said, as her aides pulled her away.