A second woman has come forward with allegations that she was sexually assaulted by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, prompting members of his own party to call for his resignation.
The woman, Meredith Watson, alleges Fairfax raped her in 2000 while the two were students at Duke University, according to a statement Friday from her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith.
In light of the new allegations, which Fairfax has vehemently denied, Democratic lawmakers in Virginia and Washington, DC, are demanding the lieutenant governor step down.
“Due to the serious nature of these allegations, we believe Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties to the Commonwealth,” Virginia House and Senate Democrats said in a joint statement Friday.
Smith called the alleged attack “premeditated and aggressive,” adding that while Watson and Fairfax were friends, they never dated or were romantically involved. According to Smith, Fairfax knew Watson had been raped during her sophomore year and used that information against her when he allegedly decided to sexually assault her.
Fairfax allegedly confirmed this to Watson during an encounter after the attack. Smith said Watson confronted him when he followed her out of a campus party.
“She turned and asked: ‘Why did you do it?’ Smith said. “Mr. Fairfax answered: ‘I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.'”
Fairfax, a Democrat, denied the new allegations in a statement and said he will not resign.
“I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” he said. “I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.”
Fairfax said the allegations were part of “a vicious and coordinated smear campaign” being orchestrated against him, and that he has passed two FBI background checks “with nothing like this being raised before.”
Watson is the second woman to accuse Fairfax of rape in what has been a chaotic week in Virginia politics. The new allegations against Fairfax come after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring both separately admitted to previously wearing blackface.
On Wednesday, Vanessa Tyson, a college professor, said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention, where Tyson and Fairfax worked.
Smith said Watson was saddened to learn about Tyson’s allegations and that she was “reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character.”
Smith did not detail Watson’s allegations but said the details of her attack were similar to what was described by Tyson and that her office had statements from former classmates who corroborated Watson’s story.
“She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages,” Smith said. “On behalf of our client, we have notified Justin Fairfax through his attorneys that Ms. Watson hopes he will resign from public office.”
Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who left office just last year, also called for Fairfax to resign.
“The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible,” McAuliffe said on Twitter. “It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor.”
Other prominent Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, also called on Fairfax to resign, while Virginia state delegate Patrick Hope said he would introduce articles of impeachment against the lieutenant governor on Monday if he has not resigned by then.
“The multiple detailed allegations against the Lt. Gov. of Virginia are deeply troubling. They are serious, credible, and corroborated by others,” Booker said on Twitter. “It is no longer appropriate for him to serve.”