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Tipsheet

Virginia Dems Explain Why They Rejected GOP's Offer to Allow Fairfax Accusers to Testify in Public Hearing

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Chris Cox revealed Tuesday that the Republicans tried to work with their counterparts to try and offer a platform for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax's accusers Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson to testify. But, the Democrats rejected the offer.

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House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn shared the Democrats' "serious concerns" in a letter to Court of Justice Chair Honorable Rob Bell. Specifically, they worry that a General Assembly hearing would be too "partisan" an environment for the witnesses.

Many members of the House of Delegates have serious concerns regarding whether such a hearing in a political body would be impartial and could result in a “highly charged political environment”– a concern echoed by representatives of Vanessa Tyson. House Democrats have repeatedly expressed this view, and unfortunately, our concerns have not been assuaged by continued efforts of the majority.

Filler-Corn adds that holding such a forum would establish an "ill-defined precedent for the future." Not to mention, she writes, that they are "not trained" on how to conduct this kind of public hearing. Finally, they worry that a hearing "could impede" potential criminal investigations into the accusations.

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She adds a footnote that the Democrats are, however, willing to discuss "engaging an independent, third party entity to conduct a hearing."

The Democrats' resistance to the hearing won't go over well with some, seeming as this is a prime opportunity for the accusers to tell their stories. That is, after all, the crux of the "Me Too" movement.

Both of Fairfax's accusers granted sit down television interviews with "Good Morning America" this week. Vanessa Tyson offered a vivid and disturbing account of what she said transpired between her and Fairfax in a hotel at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. As she describes it, he took advantage of her both physically and mentally, knowing she had once been the victim of incest. Similarly, Meredith Watson shared that she felt Fairfax had preyed on her because of her vulnerable history. She claims he raped her in 2000 when they were students at Duke University, after she revealed to him she had been assaulted the year before.

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