An attorney for a woman who accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in Boston nearly 15 years ago said Wednesday evening that the woman "will meet" with members of the Suffolk County district attorney's office and law enforcement to discuss her allegations.
Debra Katz, an attorney for Vanessa Tyson, said she was working to schedule a time for her client to detail her claims.
The district attorney’s office, however, wouldn’t confirm any such meeting.
“Earlier today, Lt. Governor Fairfax’s spokeswoman issued a shocking threat ... that Lt. Governor Fairfax would initiate criminal charges against Dr. Tyson if she pressed charges against him for sexually assaulting her in 2004. This is a clear effort to obstruct justice. Dr. Tyson will not be bullied and she will not be silenced by such threats,” Katz said in a statement. “As Dr. Tyson stated earlier, she will cooperate with all appropriate investigations, and awaits further word from leadership in the Virginia legislature about how it will proceed.”
The district attorney’s office had offered to hear from her, saying in a statement that office “resources” were available to her and underscoring that victims could come forward without being compelled to testify at trial.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins explained in a statement Wednesday that her office is “a safe, survivor-centered environment for anyone to disclose a sexual assault.”
“These are unique circumstances. We wouldn’t normally discuss a matter like this publicly, but the decision was made to self-identify and I’d be remiss if I didn’t make my office and its resources available to her—and to other survivors who might be following the case and wrestling with whether to come forward to law enforcement,” Rollins said.
“We wouldn’t compel a sexual assault victim to testify at trial,” she continued. “My goal is to make sure that anyone wrestling with this question is aware of the options available here…We stand ready to assist in making those connections, regardless of any potential charges.”
Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California, went public with allegations that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July 2004. Fairfax, a Democrat, adamantly denied the allegations.
The statute of limitations for such an alleged crime in Massachusetts would expire later this year.
As we stated earlier, the Lt. Governor looks forward to any investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney.
Fairfax's office responded: “We have said all along we are open to a full, fair and impartial and non-political investigation of this matter that affords due process to all. We look forward to meeting the Suffolk County District Attorney should they decide to commence an investigation and will cooperate fully. We know that when all accounts are heard that the truth will prevail and his name will be cleared.”
Last week, a source close to Tyson’s legal team told Fox News the professor was not planning to pursue charges against Fairfax and indicated she “wanted to make her statement about what happened and get back to her life.” Over the weekend, though, Tyson’s legal team released a statement saying said she would be willing to testify against Fairfax in any sort of impeachment proceedings.
The statute of limitations for an alleged rape is 15 years in Massachusetts. Tyson said the alleged incident occurred on July 28, 2004, in Boston, meaning law enforcement officials theoretically would have until this summer to bring charges if they wanted to pursue them.
A spokesman for the Boston Police Department told Fox News last week it could not comment on the status or existence of any investigation, noting that such reports would be classified.
Tyson hired the law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP prior to releasing her statement, retaining Katz to represent her. Katz was one of the attorneys who represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while in high school.
The statement detailed the alleged encounter, saying that “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,” she recalled. “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.”
She added: “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.”
Fairfax vehemently denied the allegations, calling them “surprising and hurtful.” He reiterated that he had a “consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation” while he was an unmarried law student.
“These are unprecedented and difficult times. We have the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the challenge and come together,” Fairfax said this week. “I look forward to continuing my work to unify the Commonwealth.”
Following Tyson’s public statement, another woman, Meredith Watson, came forward alleging that Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University. Fairfax also denied these allegations.
The sexual assault allegations against Fairfax come amid a political firestorm in Virginia that has intensified by the day. Earlier, photos of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam surfaced from his medical school yearbook, showing someone in blackface next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume. Democrats and Republicans alike have called for Northam’s resignation, but the governor, at this point, has refused and now claims he was not in that photo.
Should Northam resign, Fairfax would be next in line to succeed him—but the sexual assault allegations have put his political future in doubt.
Also this week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the next in the line of succession, posted a statement admitting he, too, 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.
Fox News' Frank Miles, David Sweet and Garrett Tenney contributed to this report.