Feb 8, 2019

Fairfax faces pressure to resign after second sexual assault allegation

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A woman named Meredith Watson came forward Friday to accuse Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of raping her while they were students at Duke University in 2000, just days after Dr. Vanessa Tyson alleged Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004.

Between the lines, via UVA Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato: "Just think—almost one week ago, Lt Gov Justin Fairfax seemed to be hours away from being sworn in as Virginia Governor, with just about everyone calling for Gov. Northam to resign. Now Northam says he’s staying, and Fairfax may well be on the way out."

What they're saying:

  • Fairfax: "I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever...It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me. I will not resign."
  • Virginia House and Senate Democrats: "Due to the serious nature of these allegations, we believe Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties to the Commonwealth. He needs to address this as a private citizen. The time has come for him to step down."
  • Virginia Legislative Black Caucus: "While we believe that anyone accused of such a grievous and harmful act must receive the due process prescribed by the Constitution, we can't see it in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Lieutenant Governor to remain in his role."
  • Virginia Democratic Delegate Patrick Hope: “On Monday, I will be introducing articles of impeachment for Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax if he has not resigned before then.”
  • Former Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe: "The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible. It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. I call for his immediate resignation."
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.): "The multiple detailed allegations against the Lt. Gov. of Virginia are deeply troubling. They are serious, credible, and corroborated by others. It is no longer appropriate for him to serve. He should resign."
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “With this second serious and credible allegation of sexual assault, Justin Fairfax should resign. This is not a partisan issue.”
  • 2020 Democratic candidate John Delaney: “If I was a Virginian, I’d want some special elections.”
  • Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.): “I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. I believe Meredith Watson. And I believe Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax must resign.”
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.): "Like so many Virginians, I am deeply pained by these revelations. But my pain pales in comparison to that experienced by these women, and so many countless other women who are victims of rape and sexual assault. Ly. Governor Fairfax must resign."
  • 2020 Democratic candidate Julián Castro: "Last Friday I called on Gov. Northam to resign immediately. Two days ago I stated that I believe the claim regarding Lt. Governor Fairfax. Tonight, I call on both of them to step aside and allow the great state of Virginia to heal and move forward."
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): "This new allegation from Meredith Watson that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax raped her, corroborated by at least two named individuals in interviews and emails, is sickening and horrendous. I believe Meredith Watson and Dr. Tyson, and it was extremely brave for them to come forward. Mr. Fairfax should resign and no longer serve the Commonwealth of Virginia."
  • Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): "The recent allegations against Lt Governor Fairfax are disturbing and extremely serious. Both allegations must be investigated immediately. If either is found to be true – and there appears to be significant corroborating evidence – then the Lt Governor should resign immediately."
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): "The allegations by Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson are corroborated, painful stories of sexual assault and rape. It’s clear Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax should resign his office."

Go deeper: Meredith Watson accuses Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of rape

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 660,706 — Total deaths: 30,652 — Total recoveries: 139,304.
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Coronavirus updates: Deaths surge in Italy and Spain

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has since Friday killed 889 more people in Italy and 832 others in Spain, which announced all non-essential workplaces would close for two weeks.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 on Saturday in the U.S., which leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 121,000, per John Hopkins. The number of those recovered from the virus in the United States passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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U.S. coronavirus deaths top 2,000

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More than 2,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Saturday, per data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Why it matters: Recorded deaths in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 two days ago. The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy.

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