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 SpanbergerKatherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent Democrats 'shooting holes in their own boat' with single-payer plan Hillicon Valley: Trump gets pushback after reversing course on Huawei | China installing surveillance apps on visitors' phones | Internet provider Cloudflare suffers outage | Consumer groups look to stop Facebook cryptocurrency MORE, Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaThe House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort Bipartisan group of lawmakers invites colleagues to tour DC's Holocaust museum Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal MORE, Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonProgressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats Congress needs to continue fighting the opioid epidemic Lawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people MORE and Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyFour heated moments from House hearing on conditions at border facilities Ex-ICE chief blasts House Democrat after tense hearing: 'He ran out of there like a little girl' Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy MORE said in a statement calling for his ouster.

Rep. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinRacial politics roil Democratic Party CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries Harris hops past Biden in early race for Black Caucus support 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.

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.

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.

“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 Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations 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 Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet 'Game of Thrones' scores record-breaking 32 Emmy nominations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet 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.