Fairfax accuser speaks out: 'It was like I had just walked into a trap'

One of two women accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault on Monday spoke out about her experience in an appearance on “CBS This Morning.”

Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College, came forward earlier this year with her claim that Fairfax assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Tyson came forward shortly after a blackface scandal involving Gov. Ralph Northam (D) led to speculation Fairfax could assume the governorship.


In the Monday interview, Tyson told Gayle King she and Fairfax went to Fairfax’s hotel room, with Fairfax saying he needed to pick up some paperwork. The encounter, Tyson said, began with him kissing her, which “wasn’t unwelcome, per se,” but that she and Fairfax ended up on the bed with Tyson unable to lift her neck as he held his hand on the back of it.

“The next thing I know my head is literally in his crotch and I’m choking and gagging and I couldn’t say anything because I’m choking and gagging,” Tyson told King. “And so, it continues and he’s holding my head ... I’m trying to lift my head and I can’t.”

Tyson added that at the time, she was working at a rape crisis center, which she said Fairfax was aware of. In retrospect, Tyson told King she believed Fairfax took advantage of knowing her history with the issue.

"It was like I had just walked into a trap," Tyson said. 

Fairfax has denied all the allegations.

In a statement to CBS, Fairfax maintained his innocence and said “I repeat my consistent call for a full investigation by law enforcement in this matter so the full truth can be known. The truth will not be uncovered by television interviews or legislative hearings designed for political purposes. It can best be properly found by exhaustive and deliberate investigation by law enforcement professionals.”

Over the weekend, Fairfax’s attorney claimed he has passed two polygraph examinations relating to the allegations. The Hill has reached out to Fairfax’s office for comment.

Tyson said she had not seen Fairfax since the incident, although she told King he had tried to call her and email her on other occasions after the end of the DNC.

She also called Fairfax’s comparison of the accusations to lynching “disgraceful,” pointing out that lynchings were overwhelmingly committed under the pretext of protecting white women. “Black women were lynched specifically trying to protect black men. And speaking as someone who teaches black politics, I find it disgraceful, irresponsible and manipulative,” she said.