Yesterday, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, the woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax when they were both staffers at the 2004 DNC convention, hired the law firm of Katz, Marshall & Banks to represent her in what is shaping up to to be an ugly public examination of her charges. Katz, Marshall & Banks, of course, is the same firm that represented Christine Ford in her calumny against Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A short while ago, via that law firm, Dr. Tyson released her version of events. I’m excerpting parts below, the whole statement is here.
I met Mr. Fairfax on July 26, 2004, when he and I were working at the Convention. We struck up a conversation on the first day of the Convention and soon realized we had a mutual friend. We crossed paths occasionally during the first two days and our interactions were cordial, but not flirtatious. We commiserated about our long work hours, and on the afternoon of the third day of the Convention, July 28, 2004, Mr. Fairfax suggested that I get some fresh air by accompanying him on a quick errand to retrieve documents from his room in a nearby hotel. Given our interactions up to that time, I had no reason to feel threatened and agreed to walk with him to his hotel. I stood in the entryway of the room and after he located the documents, he walked over and kissed me. Although surprised by his advance, it was not unwelcome and I kissed him back. He then took my hand and pulled me towards the bed. I was fully clothed in a pantsuit and had no intention of taking my clothes off or engaging in sexual activity. In the back of my mind, I also knew I needed to return to Convention headquarters.
What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth. Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him. I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite. I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and I never spoke to him again.
After the assault, I suffered from both deep humiliation and shame. I did not speak about it for years, and I (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as a necessary means to continue my studies, and to pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic. At the time, I found this horrific incident especially degrading given my regular volunteer work at a local rape crisis center. Over the next decade or so, I would go on to earn my PhD from the University of Chicago and become a tenured professor at Scripps College, a prestigious women’s college in Claremont, California.
Years later, in October of 2017, I saw a picture of Mr. Fairfax accompanying an article in The Root about his campaign for Lt. Governor in Virginia. The image hit me like a ton of bricks, triggering buried traumatic memories and the feelings of humiliation I’d felt so intensely back in 2004. Prior to reading the article, I had not followed Mr. Fairfax’s career and did not know that he was seeking public office. Unsure of what to do, I felt it was crucial to tell close friends of mine in Virginia, who were voters, about the assault.
With tremendous anguish, I am now sharing this information about my experience and setting the record straight. It has been extremely difficult to relive that traumatic experience from 2004. Mr. Fairfax has tried to brand me as a liar to a national audience, in service to his political ambitions, and has threatened litigation. Given his false assertions, I’m compelled to make clear what happened. I very much wish to resume my life as an academic and professor. I do not want to get further embroiled in this highly charged political environment.
Unlike some people who make these claims, Dr. Tyson remembers who, when, and where. She makes a detailed allegation that can be largely verified. She has a motive for coming forward that can’t be mistaken for a cheap partisan hit.
I’d be lying if I told I knew how this will play out. My gut is that right now Fairfax has gone from being the next governor of Virginia to very possibly the ex-lieutenant governor. There seem to be a lot of sexual and racial politics at play here. Note that none of the #MeToo harpies are demanding Fairfax resign. There is no solidarity being expressed by the #BelieveWomen sisterhood for Dr. Tyson. By this time in the Kavanaugh affair the whole cruise ship gang was demanding that he withdraw his nomination. Fairfax could survive because Northam and Herring have their blackface problems and the Virginia Democrat caucus would self-immolate if the only guy who lost his job was the black guy. And he could survive because the whole #MeToo movement is just bullsh** political opportunism that has its primary allegiance to progressive politicians and not to women.
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