Vanessa Tyson released a statement Wednesday describing for the first time in graphic detail the sexual assault she alleges she suffered at the hands of Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax.
Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in California, claims Fairfax lured her to his hotel room during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 and, once she was there, forced her to perform oral sex on him against her will — a charge Fairfax has vigorously and repeatedly denied:
I stood in the entryway of the room and after he located the documents, he walked over and kissed me. Although surprised by his advance, it was not unwelcome and I kissed him back. He then took my hand and pulled me towards the bed. I was fully clothed in a pantsuit and had no intention of taking my clothes off or engaging in sexual activity. In the back of my mind, I also knew I needed to return to Convention headquarters.
What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth. Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him. I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite. I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and I never spoke to him again.
Tyson’s statement was issued by Katz Marshall & Banks, the same D.C.-based law firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford in her allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Fairfax first denied the allegation early Monday morning, just hours after Tyson described on Facebook being sexually assaulted by a politician who fit his description. In his statement, Fairfax claimed the encounter was consensual and cited the Washington Post‘s inability to corroborate, and refusal to publish, Tyson’s account as evidence that he was telling the truth.
Tyson explained in the statement that she was motivated to publicize the allegation after learning over the weekend that Fairfax would likely succeed Ralph Northam as governor of Virginia in the coming days. Northam faced near-unanimous calls to resign from national and state Democrats after a racist photo featured in his 1984 medical-school yearbook emerged last Friday. He has denied appearing in the photo and has thus far refused to step down.