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Second woman accuses Virginia lieutenant governor of sexual assault

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax presides over a session of the state senate inside the capital building in dowtown Richmond, on February 4, 2019. - Virginia politics went into further turmoil as the lieutenant governor of the eastern US state, where the governor is under intense pressure to resign, was accused of sexual misconduct. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would take over if Governor Ralph Northam steps down, strongly denied the allegation made by a woman about a sexual encounter they had in a hotel room 15 years ago. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)

On Friday, a second woman publicly accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.

An attorney for Meredith Watson put out a statement saying that in 2000, when Watson and Fairfax were classmates at Duke University, Fairfax raped her in a “premeditated and aggressive” attack. The release also says that Watson’s legal team has statements “from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.”

One of those classmates, Kaneedreck Adams, already spoke with the Washington Post and says that Watson came to her crying to say that Fairfax had raped her in the spring of 2000. “She said she couldn’t speak, but she was trying to get up and he kept pushing her down,” recounted Adams, who says Watson told her the attack took place at a fraternity house. Watson herself also called for Fairfax, a Democrat, to resign. Fairfax responded by calling the story part of a “smear campaign” and insisting he would not leave office.

Wilson’s statement comes just days after Vanessa Tyson, a political science professor in California, released her own account detailing her allegations against Fairfax. Tyson said that at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Fairfax “forced me to perform oral sex on him” even as she was crying and gagging. Fairfax says that their sexual encounter was consensual. On Friday, just before Watson released her statement, five people told the New York Times that Tyson had informed them over the last two years that she had been raped at the 2004 DNC, and three said that she had identified Fairfax as the perpetrator.

Virginia Democrats had generally been circumspect in their approach to Tyson’s charges, with the state’s Legislative Black Caucus, for instance, calling for an investigation. However, attitudes may be changing thanks to Watson’s testimony, as former Gov. Terry McAuliffe quickly issued a statement calling on Fairfax to step down.

Fairfax is first in line to become governor should Gov. Ralph Northam leave office. However, Northam is still digging in despite near-universal calls from fellow Democrats to resign in the week since a racist photograph from his 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced. Northam reportedly has told his staff he’s not going anywhere, even as a new poll from Democratic polling firm Civiqs, commissioned by Daily Kos, shows that Virginia voters want him to leave office by a wide 60-24 margin.

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