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WTKR: Virginia House Democrats say investigation into Lt. Gov. Fairfax should happen outside of legislature Print

BY: Brendan Ponton

Created: February 19, 2019

Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates say any investigation into Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax should happen “outside of the political arena,” a sign they will not move forward with impeachment proceedings.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday, the House Democrats say investigations should be led by law enforcement officers.

Fairfax denies he sexually assaulted two women, named Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson. Tyson has agreed to meet with the District Attorney of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Tyson claims Fairfax raped her in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. A spokesman for the DA’s Office would not comment on a timetable for the meeting.

“Given the allegations, it is appropriate that the Suffolk County District Attorney in Massachusetts has offered to investigate,” House Democrats said in the statement. “We hope any other jurisdictions involved would follow Massachusetts’ lead.”

Watson’s attorney released a statement in response to the Virginia House Democrats that reads:

Apparently, the Virginia House Democratic Caucus believes that courageous victims of rape need to be heard — just not by them. Ms. Watson is counting on the General Assembly to do the right thing and hold hearings now. These nonstop efforts to duck their role is pure cowardice. Sympathy is welcome, but action is needed.

Watson is prepared to publicly testify against Fairfax in a hearing, she wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Watson says Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were students at Duke University.

“I am frustrated by calls for an investigation rather than a public hearing into these matters,” Watson wrote. Shortly after she initially came forward, Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) announced he would introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax. A few days later he backed off the idea, saying he wanted to have additional conversations.

Following Watson’s op-ed, House Speaker Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) tweeted that he hoped lawmakers could “develop a bipartisan consensus on the best way to look into these serious allegations.” Right now, the next steps in Watson’s case remain unclear.

House Democrats repeated their call to Fairfax for his resignation in their recent statement. “We are willing to work in a bipartisan manner with members of the General Assembly on a path forward,” they said.

Fairfax has resisted calls to step down and maintains his innocence. He’s called for a “full, fair, and impartial and non-political investigation.”

The General Assembly session is scheduled to end on Saturday.