Woman who accused Virginia lieutenant governor of sexual assault releases statement of her account
Dr. Vanessa Tyson, the woman who has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, released a statement on Wednesday detailing her allegations. Gov. Ralph Northam, a fellow Democrat, has been facing near-universal calls for his resignation since Friday, when a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook became public, and Fairfax is first in line to become governor.
Tyson, who now works as a political science professor at Scripps College in California, said that back at the 2004 convention she met Fairfax, and the two struck up a friendship. Later, as she was accompanying Fairfax back to his hotel room to retrieve some documents, he proceeded to kiss her. While this advance was “not unwelcome” and she kissed him back, Tyson says she “had no intention of taking my clothes off or engaging in sexual activity.” However, Fairfax “put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch.” She continued by saying that the future lieutenant governor “forced his penis into my mouth.”
Tyson writes that she “tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me,” and that, “As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.” She declares that she can not believe “given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual,” and that she had never given him any form of consent. Tyson continues by saying she avoided Fairfax at the convention afterward and that she didn’t speak about what happened for years.
However, in October 2017, when Fairfax was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and Tyson was living in California, she writes that she learned about his campaign and saw his image in the paper, which “hit me like a ton of bricks, triggering buried traumatic memories and the feelings of humiliation I’d felt so intensely back in 2004.” Tyson says that by December 2017, after Fairfax had won the general election, she had told her friends about what happened and spoken to the Washington Post. The paper ultimately did not run the story, which Tyson says made her feel “powerless, frustrated, and completely drained.”