Northam says he supports investigation into sexual assault allegations against Fairfax

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Sunday that he supports an investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), but stopped short of calling on Fairfax to resign.

"I can only imagine that it must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and talk about these things that just are so hurtful," Northam told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King. "And these accusations are very, very serious. They need to be taken seriously."


Northam noted that Fairfax has called for an investigation into the accusations, and said it's important to "get to the truth." 

"I support an investigation," he said. "These accusations are very serious and we need to get to the bottom of them."

It's up to Fairfax whether he should resign at this point, Northam added. Northam is fending off his own calls to resign due to a controversy over a photo in his medical school yearbook.

"If these accusations are determined to be true, I don’t think he’s going to have any other option but to resign," Northam added of Fairfax.

Northam told King that he has not spoken to Fairfax since a second woman came forward to allege the lieutenant governor sexually assaulted her several years ago.

Fairfax has been under scrutiny since early last week, when he first denied unspecified allegations of sexual assault. On Wednesday, the accuser, Vanessa Tyson, came forward with a detailed accusation, saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex during what began as a consensual encounter in 2004.

Fairfax has maintained that the entire interaction was consensual. Both he and Tyson have retained legal counsel.

On Friday, a second woman alleged that Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University.

The lieutenant governor denied the second allegation, calling it part of “a vicious and coordinated smear campaign." He has refused to resign, despite growing calls from state and national Democrats.