Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) made a speech Sunday in which he compared himself to a victim of lynching due to the sexual assault allegations he was facing, according to the Associated Press.
"I've heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that," Fairfax said at the close of the legislative session for the state Senate.
"And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices,” he continued. “And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing."
His speech was reportedly met with “stunned senators” sitting in “awkward silence.”
Two women, Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson, have come forward recently to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault.
Dr. Vanessa 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.
Watson alleged that Fairfax raped her when they were both students at Duke University. She said the incident occurred in 2000 when they were friends with no romantic history.
Fairfax has vehemently denied both allegations. He said the incident with Tyson was “consensual” and that Watson’s allegation was false and part of a “coordinated smear campaign” against him.
Virginia House Republicans announced plans Friday afternoon to hold a public hearing where Lt. Gov. Fairfax and his accusers can testify on the matter.
"That is the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric he could have invoked," Republican House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert said of Fairfax’s remarks Sunday. "It's entirely appropriate for him to talk about due process and we would intend to offer him every ounce of it, and he's welcome to take advantage of that anytime he would like."
The state’s two other top Democrats, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, have also been resisting calls to resign after they both admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s.