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Tipsheet

Fairfax Accusers Condemn Virginia Assembly for Lack of Action

AP Photo/Steve Helber

The attorney for Vanessa Tyson, one of two women accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, released a statement Thursday condemning the Virginia General Assembly for their failure to investigate Tyson's claims.

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“It is unfathomable that the Virginia General Assembly appears intent on ending its current session without addressing this issue in any meaningful way,” Tyson’s attorney Debra Katz said Thursday. “We call on the General Assembly to hire experienced independent investigators to conduct a prompt and thorough inquiry of these matters. Credible allegations of sexual assault must not be ignored.”

This statement comes a day after Fairfax’s second accuser Meredith Watson and her attorneys also condemned the assembly for their inaction. Watson’s attorney called for hearings on the issue so that both women could testify.

“Apparently, the Virginia House Democratic Caucus believes that courageous victims of rape need to be heard—just not by them,” her attorney Nancy Erika Smith commented. “Ms. Watson is counting on the General Assembly to do the right thing and hold hearings now. These nonstop efforts to duck their role is pure cowardice. Sympathy is welcome, but action is needed.”

Watson called for Fairfax’s resignation earlier this month, alleging that Fairfax raped her when they were both students at Duke University.

In a statement from her lawyer, Watson said the incident occurred in 2000 when they were friends with no romantic history. The rape is described as “premeditated and aggressive.”

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Tyson, a professor at Scripps College, released a detailed statement saying that Fairfax had physically forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention.

Fairfax has denied both allegations.

Republican Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox told The Washington Post Thursday that Democrats have refused to cooperate with his attempts for a bipartisan investigation of the allegations against Fairfax.

“Vanessa Tyson, Meredith Watson deserve a voice,” Cox said he told Democrats, “we need to work on a process to do that. And I would like for you to come alongside us.”

House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) told The Post that there were concerns that an investigative panel could potentially interfere with possible criminal investigations.

The 46-day Virginia General Assembly session ends Saturday.

Update: Virginia House Republicans announced plans Friday afternoon to hold a public hearing where Lt. Gov. Fairfax and his accusers can testify on the matter. The hearing will be on an as yet unnamed date.  

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