Duke University board asks Fairfax to step down after rape allegation

Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy called on Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) to step down from its Board of Visitors on Friday after two women came forward to accuse him of sexual assault.

“I am writing to let you know that Justin Fairfax will be asked to step down from the Sanford School Board of Visitors pending the resolution of the serious and deeply distressing allegations that have been made against him,” Dean Judith Kelley wrote in an email Friday to Sanford staff and students obtained by The Chronicle.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Sexual assault is abhorrent and unfortunately can occur right around us. I urge everyone to take survivors of sexual assault seriously, and to help build an environment that is safe and supportive for everyone,” she added.

The Sanford School of Public Policy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The request comes after Fairfax, an alumnus of Duke University, was accused this week of sexual assault by two women.

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

Meredith Watson came forward Friday through her lawyer, accusing Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when the two were both students at Duke University. Her lawyer called the alleged attack “premeditated and aggressive.” 

Fairfax issued a statement vehemently denying the allegations, claiming they were part of “a vicious and coordinated smear campaign” and vowing not to resign from his post.

Half a dozen Virginia lawmakers had called on Fairfax to resign by Friday afternoon, following Watson's allegation being made public.

The Virginia Democratic Party has also called on Fairfax to step down.