Vanessa Tyson, one of two women accusing Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, said Monday in her first televised interview that the Virginia lieutenant governor took advantage of her past as a survivor “of incest.”
During a sit-down with Gayle King of “CBS' This Morning,” Tyson spoke out on her allegations that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004. Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegations.
“I was so ashamed,” Tyson said. “I was so humiliated on so many levels.”
“Here I was, this woman working at a rape crisis center as a survivor, speaking, trying to empower survivors of sexual assault,” she continued.
King asked Tyson what she was a “survivor” of.
“Of incest,” Tyson said.
When asked whether Fairfax was aware of her past, she said: “Yes, actually. Here’s the thing—what I was doing for the rape crisis center was the biggest part of my life at that time.”
Tyson went on to add that, “in retrospect, yes,” she believed Fairfax took advantage of her because of her past experiences.
Tyson and Fairfax met in Boston, Mass. in July 2004 during the Democratic National Convention. Earlier this year, Tyson released a statement outlining in graphic detail their alleged encounter. Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex. Fairfax, a Democrat, denied those allegations.
The second woman to come out with sexual assault allegations against Fairfax, Meredith Watson, also claimed he took advantage of her history as a sexual assault survivor.
Watson claimed to have been raped by then-Duke University basketball player, now-NBA player Corey Maggette while they were students. Watson claimed the university discouraged her from reporting her claim. In February, a spokesman for Maggette denied the allegations, and the university said they were “gathering information” about the alleged incident.
But Watson and her legal team claimed that she shared details of the alleged rape with Fairfax while they were both students at Duke University in 2000.
A statement from the legal team said: “Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape. She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out. She turned and asked: ‘Why did you do it?’ Mr. Fairfax answered: ‘I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.’
“Mr. Fairfax actually used the prior rape of his ‘friend’ against her when he chose to rape her in a premeditated way.”
Fairfax has vehemently denied both allegations and called them part of a “vicious and coordinated smear campaign.” A spokesperson for Fairfax said Sunday that the lieutenant governor had taken two polygraph tests showing that he engaged in “no wrongdoing whatsoever.” Fairfax’s office did not specify exactly when the tests took place.
The polygraph tests, conducted by the same expert who questioned Christine Blasey Ford over her allegations against then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, showed Fairfax was answering truthfully when asked separately if Fairfax had any “non-consensual sexual activity” with Tyson or Watson, according to his office.
"From the moment that Dr. Vanessa Tyson and then Ms. Meredith Watson first made accusations that Lt. Governor Fairfax had committed sexual assault decades ago, Lt. Governor Fairfax has been steadfast in saying that the allegations are extraordinarily serious, deserve to be heard, and should be investigated and taken seriously," Fairfax's spokesperson said in a statement. "Lt. Governor Fairfax has also been steadfast from the start in saying that a serious, fair, and impartial investigation and examination of the facts would demonstrate that these allegations are false and that he engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever."
Polygraph tests – often referred to as lie-detector tests – are not infallible and their accuracy rate is estimated to be anywhere between 90 and 70 percent.
Later in the interview, Tyson blasted Fairfax for comparing himself to lynching victims.
“Never was it two black women lynching two black men,” Tyson said. “I find it disgraceful, irresponsible and manipulative.”
She added: “Sexual assault should never be a racial issue. It should never be a partisan issue. Sexual assault is an epidemic.”
Tyson called for Fairfax to resign from his post as lieutenant governor, saying that “the Virginia people and the voters of Virginia have a right to know both my story and Meredith’s story.”
Tyson, a professor of political science at Scripps College in California, also said she spoke publicly about the alleged assault because she did not want her students interested in politics to face a similar situation.
“I don’t want this to ever, ever, ever happen to them,” she said, adding that “the Virginia people need to know who they elected.”
Tyson also said that she wants to testify in public before the Virginia Assembly.
"I would want Meredith, myself, and Mr. Fairfax to be able to speak. To be heard," Tyson said. "And particularly for survivors, I think this is incredibly important...we need to be treated as the human beings that we are."
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and Garrett Tenney contributed to this report.