Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is planning to take legal action against the women accusing him of sexual assault and is arguing that the allegations were made to do “nothing more” than smear his reputation and political career, Fox News has learned.
It is not clear what type of legal action Fairfax plans to take or when details of those plans will emerge. His spokeswoman suggested it could be anywhere from the next few weeks to the next few months.
The move comes just days after the statute of limitations for his first accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, apparently expired. Tyson had accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on July 28, 2004, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The statute of limitations for an alleged rape is 15 years in Massachusetts. It expired on Sunday.
Tyson did not file a criminal complaint against Fairfax, a Democrat. His team alleges “her allegations have all been about nothing more than smearing Lt. Governor Fairfax’s reputation and attempting to harm his family and his political and professional career.”
But Tyson has maintained in graphic detail that she was assaulted. Earlier this year, she said in a statement: “To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave him any form of consent. Quite the opposite.”
And a statement from her attorneys argued Tuesday that the statute of limitations has not actually expired, claiming it "does not run while the defendant resides outside of Massachusetts."
"Lt. Governor Fairfax’s statement is both incorrect and offensive," her attorneys said. "As we stated in our June 13 statement, a survivor of sexual violence should not be forced to pursue criminal charges against her assailant in order to defend her credibility. ... This is just another shameless attempt to coerce his accusers into silence."
They said Tyson continues to seek a bipartisan hearing before the state General Assembly "where both parties will be provided with an opportunity to speak candidly, under oath, to that body and to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia," adding: "Dr. Tyson is also continuing to weigh all legal options in Massachusetts, which she is able to pursue should the Virginia General Assembly fail to act."
Meredith Watson, a former classmate of Fairfax’s at Duke University, also accused him of sexual assault but did not file criminal charges. There is no statute of limitations in North Carolina.
Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegations.
“The Lt. Governor looks forward to holding those involved legally accountable for the enormous damage caused by their defamatory actions,” Fairfax’s spokeswoman told Fox News.
Fairfax has previously called for a law enforcement investigation into the allegations. Last month, his attorney sent letters to prosecutors in Boston and Durham, N.C., requesting they investigate—claiming it would vindicate him.
Tyson, a professor at Scripps College, was slated to teach two classes this upcoming fall semester. However, the school’s student newspaper reported that students registered for her classes received an email this week notifying them that Tyson would no longer be teaching them and, instead, were reassigned to an adjunct professor.
The allegations against Fairfax came amid a political firestorm in Virginia earlier this year. In February, photos of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam surfaced from his medical school yearbook, showing someone in blackface next to someone wearing a Klu Klux Klan costume. Democrats and Republicans, alike, had called for Northam’s resignation, but the governor refused and claims he was not in the photo. Fairfax would have been next in line to succeed him.
At the time, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the next in the line of succession, also admitted that he donned blackface during a college party in 1980, saying he wore brown makeup and a wig to look like a black rapper during a party at the University of Virginia. Herring said he accepted “full responsibility” for his conduct.
But last month, Fairfax said that the accusations actually raised his profile and said he is now “seriously” mulling a run for governor in 2021.
Between April 1 and June 30, Fairfax’s political action committee “We Rise Together” raised $60,767—compared with the just $3,178 he raised between Jan. 1 and March 31—during the heat of the scandal.
Earlier this month, Fairfax stepped down from law firm Morrison & Foerster, after being on leave since the accusations surfaced in February. The firm said it had conducted an internal investigation into Fairfax and found no evidence of misconduct during his employment.
“Justin fully cooperated with the investigation," a firm spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News. " ... With the conclusion of our investigation, Justin’s leave of absence has ended. Justin has informed us, however, that he has decided to leave the firm and we respect that decision."