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Virginia Deputy Governor

Second Woman Accuses Virginia Deputy Governor Of Assault

A second woman has come forward to accuse the deputy governor of scandal-plagued Virginia of sexual assault.

Meredith Watson alleges Lt Governor Justin Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University in North Carolina.

Mr Fairfax, a Democrat, has denied the latest allegation, saying he is the victim of a smear campaign.

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The governor of Virginia and state’s attorney general are meanwhile both embroiled in racism rows.

What does she say and he say?

Mr Fairfax’s first accuser, Vanessa Tyson, came forward last week to allege he forced her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room at the Democratic party convention in Boston in 2004.

On Friday, a law firm representing the second woman, Meredith Watson, issued a statement on her behalf outlining her allegation.

She said “Mr Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive” and the details “are similar to those described by Dr Vanessa Tyson”.

According to Ms Watson’s legal representatives Smith Mullin, former classmates have provided statements corroborating Ms Watson’s allegations and stating that she “immediately told friends that Mr Fairfax had raped her”.

She says she was friends with Mr Fairfax while they studied at Duke University, but that they never had a romantic relationship.

Ms Watson is not seeking any damages, her lawyer says, but “came forward out of a strong sense of civic duty” and hopes Mr Fairfax will resign from public office.

  • How should politicians apologise?

Mr Fairfax, 39, said in a statement to US media: “I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever.”

He demanded a full investigation to “clear my good name”.

“I have passed two full field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before.

“It is obvious that a vicious and co-ordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me.

“I will not resign.”

  • Virginia’s painful ‘blackface’ past and present

What’s the reaction?

Democrats had until now stopped short of calling for Mr Fairfax to quit, but the latest allegation opened the floodgates on Friday.

Virginia Democratic representatives issued a joint statement demanding the lieutenant governor step aside.

“All survivors of sexual violence and harassment deserve to be supported and heard,” they said, “and our commitment to that principle is more important than any political consideration.”


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