Virginia’s lieutenant governor — who would replace Gov. Ralph Northam (D) if he decides to resign after admitting he once wore blackface — has denied allegations of sexual assault and threatened legal action against the conservative website that published the accusations.
In a statement released early Monday morning, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s office described the allegations as “unsubstantiated,” “defamatory and false.” He confirmed that the allegations of sexual assault were brought to the Washington Post “more than a year ago,” but the newspaper decided to ditch the story after it spent months investigating the claims, citing “the absence of any evidence,” according to the statement.
“The Lt. Governor will take appropriate legal action against those attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation,” the statement said.
In a Washington Post story on Monday, the newspaper pushed back slightly on Fairfax’s account of its investigation. According to the Post, reporters could not find someone to corroborate either Fairfax’s or the accuser’s accounts of the incident and decided against running the story. Fairfax told the Post the encounter was consensual. The woman who has accused him of assault described an incident that began consensually and turned into a forced sexual act.
“Fairfax and the woman told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present,” The Post’s Theresa Vargas wrote on Monday. “The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version. The Post did not find ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,’ as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said.”
The allegations were published by Big League Politics on Sunday in a piece that attempts to draw a correlation between a Standford University fellow’s Facebook post alleging assault by someone who won a statewide office in November 2017 and Fairfax.
Fairfax may soon become governor of Virginia if his boss decides to resign over the swelling controversy surrounding his use of blackface in college. Prominent Democrats have called on Northam to resign. On Sunday night, the governor privately met with members of his administration to weigh their support and told them he would step down if he felt he was not longer effective.
When reached via email for comment, Big League Politics editor Patrick Howley asked TPM, “Why are you running interference for the man accused of sexual assault instead of listening to what the accuser has to say?”
— Justin Fairfax (@FairfaxJustin) February 4, 2019