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Fairfax Accuser Reminds Us There’s Still a Scandal(s) in Virginia

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Robert Mueller and Jussie Smollett left all other headlines in the dust last week. But Vanessa Tyson recently joined "CBS This Morning" to remind us that several Virginia leaders are embroiled in scandal. Tyson, a professor at Scripps College, has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually harassing her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. In her sit down interview with Gayle King, Tyson recalled in detail how Fairfax took advantage of her. What started off as "consensual" kissing in a hotel quickly escalated.


(warning: the following account may be disturbing to some readers)

Tyson: "We're kissing lying down. And we're kissing. Like, so our heads are level with each other. And then it was like my neck didn't work," Tyson said.
King: "What do you mean?"
Tyson: "It-- it-- it-- it-- it was like I couldn't-- I couldn't feel my neck. I couldn't hold my head up," Tyson said. "He's using his hand on the back of my neck. And I still didn't know what was going wrong. I thought there was something wrong with my neck… And he's pushing down and pushing down. And I couldn't hold my neck up. And I didn't know what was going on. I honestly didn't know what was going on. And then the next thing I know, like, my head is, like, literally in his crotch… And I'm choking and gagging. And, you know, I couldn't say anything 'cause I'm choking and gagging. And so, you know, it continues for-- and he's holding my head. So I can't lift-- like, I'm trying to lift my head, but I can't." (CBS News)

Tyson said she didn't tell anyone what had happened in part because of humiliation, explaining she was working for a rape crisis center at the time. She also revealed to Fairfax that she had been the victim of incest when she was younger. She told King she now feels that he took advantage of that knowledge.


There were plenty of reasons to not come forward with her story, but Tyson provided two compelling ones for why she did.

Tyson explained that when she "looks at her beautiful students," some of whom want to pursue politics, she realizes she "doesn't want this to ever happen to them."

Secondly, “the Virginia people need to know who it is that they elected.”

So, she spoke out. And she'd do it again - under oath. She's willing to testify and encouraged Fairfax's other accuser, Meredith Watson, to do the same.

Tyson wants a public hearing as opposed to an investigation because the latter allows people in power to "sweep things under the rug." Of course, an investigation isn't all she wants.

"In my ideal world, I'd want him to resign," Tyson told King.

Fairfax, for his part, has denied the accounts, even likening himself to a lynching victim. That, Tyson said, is "disgraceful, irresponsible and manipulative." Sexual assault, she added, should "never" be a racial issue.


Speaking of race, two of other prominent Virginians, Gov. Ralph Northam and attorney general Mark Herring, have both admitted to wearing blackface in their school years. Like Fairfax, they too have faced calls to resign, and they too have ignored them.

You can see/read more of Tyson's interview with "Good Morning America" here.

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