Two women who have accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault said they were willing to testify in possible impeachment proceedings against him, while Fairfax called for an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual assault leveled against him over the last week. Fairfax hasn’t denied having encounters with either woman, but says they were both consensual.
“As an officer of the court and a former federal prosecutor, I have dedicated my life to the law and due process. Consequently, I call on all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities, including the FBI, to investigate fully and thoroughly the allegations against me by Ms. Watson and Dr. Tyson.”
Many of the stories already written on Fairfax’s statement simply say that he’s asking for an FBI investigation. The FBI would likely decline to investigate because they don’t have jurisdiction in either incident (one occurring in Massachusetts, and one occurring in North Carolina), and Fairfax isn’t involved in a Congressional hearing or other proceeding that would require an FBI background investigation. Fairfax included the agency in his request, but said that he calls on “all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities.”
Would that include the Durham County District Attorney’s office? We might have an opportunity to find out. Upon learning of Fairfax’s statement, Meredith Watson’s attorneys responded:
“Mr. Fairfax claims to want due process, saying he seeks an FBI investigation. But he knows as a former Prosecutor, that the FBI has no jurisdiction over this matter. Indeed, my client may contact North Carolina authorities about a possible criminal prosecution.”
There is no statute of limitations for first degree rape (or many lesser includeds) in North Carolina, according to RAINN. Watson’s attorneys also called bulls**t on Fairfax’s denials.
“He claims that two women, who never spoke or met each other, but who describe very similar sexual assaults, are lying. Fairfax says both women’s claims are “unsubstantiated.” False – they corroborate each other.”
Dr. Vanessa Tyson, the first woman who publicly accused Fairfax of rape, also released a statement through her attorneys, saying that Fairfax was attempting to mislead the public by asking for an investigation by an agency that has no jurisdiction in the matter.
On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), a former prosecutor, said that in impeachment proceedings against Fairfax the allegations needn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard in a criminal proceeding. She also characterized the allegations as “credible” and “corroborated” and said that they included forcible sodomy.
“You know, I was also a prosecutor and this is not an issue where we need to prove something to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Elected leaders need to be held to a higher standard and where there are credible allegations- corroborated allegations- of serious sexual assault. We’re talking about rape and forcible sodomy. This is something that impacts his ability to lead in future.”
Fairfax defenders who say the Lt. Gov. should not resign at this time but should be afforded the presumption of innocence, have a point. Though in my initial piece about the second accuser I called on Fairfax to resign, I believe that instead he should be placed on some type of administrative leave or take a leave of absence while these charges are investigated. At the end, whether or not he resigns could be a moot point.