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Virginia lawmakers call for Fairfax to resign after woman accuses him of rape

Half a dozen Virginia lawmakers have called on Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) to resign after a second woman came forward this week to accuse him of sexual assault.

"All survivors of sexual violence and harassment deserve to be supported and heard, and our commitment to that principle is more important than any political consideration," Democratic Reps. Don Beyer, Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution House lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan bill to weed out foreign disinformation on social media 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE, Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 Luria holds onto Virginia House seat MORE, Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonPorter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector Democratic lawmakers call for Pence to invoke 25th Amendment, remove Trump from office 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE and Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump's assault on the federal government isn't over LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to impeach Trump after Capitol insurrection Trump era bows out with scorched-earth drama in divided GOP MORE said in a statement calling for his ouster.

Rep. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinLobbying world Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role | Haaland, eyed for Interior, stresses need for Native American representation | Haaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post MORE (D-Va.) issued his own call for Fairfax to step aside, tweeting, "I believe that it is best for the Commonwealth of Virginia if Justin Fairfax dealt with these accusations as a private citizen. He can no longer serve us as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia." 

The calls for his resignation come after Fairfax was struck with a pair of sexual assault allegations this week amid chaos in Richmond, as speculation has arisen that he may have to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D) as the governor remains embroiled in a scandal regarding his past use of blackface.

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A woman named Meredith Watson came forward Friday through her lawyer to accuse Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University. A statement from her lawyer called the alleged attack “premeditated and aggressive.” 

Fairfax issued a statement denying the allegations, claiming they were part of “a vicious and coordinated smear campaign” and vowing, “I will not resign.”

“I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” he said in the statement reported by Fox 5 DC. He also called for a "full investigation" into the allegations.

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Vanessa Tyson was the first woman to accuse Fairfax of misconduct earlier this week, saying he sexually assaulted her in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” Tyson, a college professor from California, said in a statement Wednesday. “Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.”

Fairfax admitted the two had a sexual encounter at the time, but insisted it was consensual.

"We believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. We found her account compelling and highly credible. The central issue at the heart of her account is consent, and there can be no better authority to decide whether it was given than Dr. Tyson herself. Meredith Watson's statement describes another extremely disturbing incident, which lends further credence to Dr. Tyson's story,” the Virginia representatives said Friday.

While politicians had been hesitant to weigh in on the scandal, the floodgates appeared to open Friday after Watson’s account became public.

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“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. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (D-N.J.), who is running for president in 2020, tweeted.

“This new allegation from Meredith Watson that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax raped her, corroborated 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 of them to come forward. Mr. Fairfax should resign and no longer serve the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Biden lifts Trump's transgender military ban | Democrats, advocates celebrate end of ban | 5,000 guardsmen staying in DC through mid-March Democrats torn on impeachment trial timing OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban MORE (D-N.Y.), another presidential candidate, echoed in a statement. 

State Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.), the second in line to the governorship, is also facing a scandal surrounding his admission he work blackface at a college party in 1980. He issued a statement earlier this week apologizing.