Woman says Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax raped her while at Duke

Around the South
Lt. Gov. Fairfax AP photo_1549313284567.JPG.jpg

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A woman has come forward accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Democrat, of raping her while both were students at Duke University in 2000. 

Nancy Erika Smith, attorney for Meredith Watson, said Fairfax’s attack on her client was “premeditated and aggressive.”

Watson told friends about being raped in email and Facebook messages, the attorney says. 

“The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship,” a letter from Smith states.

The attorney also says she has obtained “statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.”

Smith said the attack described by Watson is similar to what Dr. Vanessa Tyson has described. 

Tyson has accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004, CBS News reports

“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” Smith wrote.

Smith said Fairfax’s attorneys were made aware that Watson hopes he resigns. 

Fairfax would succeed Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam if he were to resign due to a scandal over a racist yearbook photo.

Fairfax said Friday in a statement:

I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever. I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth. I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide. I have passed two full field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before. It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me. I will not resign.

Smith released another statement Friday night in response to Fairfax’s camp revealing that she is the victim of a prior rape and may be confused. Smith verified that Watson is the victim of another assault, saying that Fairfax had been raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke.

The statement went on to say that Watson reported the rape to the Dean, “who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax.”

The full statement from Smith:

We have heard from numerous press sources that in response to Meredith Watson revealing that Justin Fairfax raped her when she was a student at Duke, Mr. Fairfax has chosen to attack his victim again, now smearing her with the typical “she’s nuts” defense.  He revealed that Ms. Watson was the victim of a prior rape. That is true.

Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke. She went to the Dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax.

Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape.  She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out.  She turned and asked: “Why did you do it?” Mr. Fairfax answered: “I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.”  Mr. Fairfax actually used the prior rape of his “friend” against her when he chose to rape her in a premeditated way. Like he is smearing Dr. Vanessa Tyson, Mr. Fairfax is now smearing Ms. Watson. That’s shameful.

The smears on victims of sexual assault have to stop. Why would any woman come forward with information about a powerful man knowing that he and his supporters will stop at nothing to smear and discredit them? Women come forward to support one another and to stop the culture of rape that is even more pervasive than we acknowledge.

CBS 17 contacted Duke, which said it is aware of the allegation regarding a rape by a basketball player. It did not release any additional comments.

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