By Alex Pappas, Brooke Singman
Published February 04, 2019
Graphic new details are emerging about a newly revealed allegation of sexual assault against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, as The Washington Post pushes back against Fairfax’s claim that the newspaper found serious problems with the original accusation when it initially opted not to publish the account.
“The Post did not find ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,’ as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said,” the Washington Post said in a story published Monday, sharply disputing the lieutenant governor's statement.
The allegation against Fairfax, a Democrat, first surfaced on the website Big League Politics, the same right-wing political blog that published the now-infamous yearbook photo showing someone in blackface and someone in a KKK costume on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's 1984 yearbook page. Fairfax has vehemently denied the accusation.
In a pre-dawn denial on Monday, Fairfax tweeted a statement saying he “has never assaulted anyone—ever—in any way, shape, or form.”
Fairfax said that the accuser, a woman, “first approached the Washington Post” over a year ago, prior to Fairfax’s inauguration in 2018.
“The Post carefully investigated the claim for several months,” Fairfax’s office said in the statement. “After being presented with facts consistent with the Lt. Governor’s denial of the allegation, the absence of any evidence corroborating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story.”
In its Monday story, the Washington Post acknowledged investigating the claims and deciding not to publish. But it said the Fairfax statement “incorrectly” claimed the paper found “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations.”
“Fairfax and the woman told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present,” the paper said. “The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version.”
The Washington Post didn’t name the accuser. But the paper said Fairfax and the woman met first met in Boston at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
“The woman described a sexual encounter that began with consensual kissing and ended with a forced act that left her crying and shaken,” The Washington Post reported. “She said Fairfax guided her to the bed, where they continued kissing, and then at one point she realized she could not move her neck. She said Fairfax used his strength to force her to perform oral sex.”
The statement from Fairfax said that before Big League Politics posted about it, “not one other reputable media outlet has seen fit to air this false claim. Only now, at a time of intense media attention surrounding Virginia politics, has this false claim been raised again.”
“The Lt. Governor will take appropriate legal action against those attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation,” the statement read.
Speaking to reporters in Richmond Monday, Fairfax discussed his relationship with the accuser, saying he was 25 and unmarried when they met at the convention. He denied any wrongdoing, calling it a “consensual encounter.” Fairfax called it a “totally fabricated story” and questioned the timing.
“Such a shame this is weaponized and used as a smear because this is a very real issue,” Fairfax said.
The Big League Politics post that prompted Fairfax's denial published a purported Facebook post from the woman that read, “Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC Convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer. You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day you find out he’s the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and he wins that election in November 2017. Then, by strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll get a VERY BIG promotion.”
She did not name Fairfax, but the report implied she was referring to the lieutenant governor.
The denial comes amid a political firestorm in Virginia, as a photo of the governor emerged showing a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb in his 1984 medical school yearbook. On Monday, the president of The College of William & Mary said Northam will no longer attend events on campus Friday because of the controversy.
Northam, a Democrat, has denied being in the photo, despite initially admitting to being in the picture, and instead acknowledged darkening his face for another occasion that same year, when he dressed as singer Michel Jackson as part of a talent contest.
Northam asserted repeatedly over the weekend that he would not resign from his post, despite a wave of criticism from 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, Democratic lawmakers and Republicans demanding he leave office.
If Northam did agree to resign from his post, Fairfax would assume the governorship. Over the weekend, Fairfax condemned the racist photo and said he "cannot condone the actions from his past." Fox News has learned that Fairfax was not invited to a meeting Northam held Sunday evening with his aides.
The photo resurfaced after Northam sparked outrage last week with comments about a controversial abortion bill that one sponsor had said could allow women to terminate a pregnancy up until the moment before birth.
Northam reportedly spent much of Sunday inside his home meeting with close advisers who—to at least some degree—have differing opinions on how to proceed. Some want the governor to fight through and work to rebuild his image. Pam Northam, the state’s first lady, wants her husband to continue to fight, the paper reported, citing two sources.
Fox News' Garrett Tenney and The Associated Press contributed to this report.