Former Va. Lt. Gov. Fairfax: FBI asks about 2019 allegations

Jul 28, 2022, 3:18 AM | Updated: 3:23 pm
FILE - In this April 6, 2021, file photo, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democratic candidate for gover...

FILE - In this April 6, 2021, file photo, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, speaks during a debate at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va. The FBI has recently conducted interviews about the origin of the sexual assault allegations made in 2019 against then-Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, according to Fairfax and several others who said they were interviewed. Fairfax, who said he met for several hours with the FBI in early June, welcomed the inquiry. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The FBI has recently conducted interviews about the origin of the sexual assault allegations made in 2019 against then-Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, according to Fairfax and several others who said they were interviewed.

Fairfax, who said he met for several hours with the FBI in early June, welcomed the inquiry.

The 43-year-old Democratic attorney, who left public office in January, has consistently denied the assault allegations against him, which have not resulted in criminal charges, and has long called for law enforcement to investigate them. He maintains he had consensual encounters with the women who have accused him of assault and has insisted that their complaints against him were part of a politically motivated smear campaign.

Three other people confirmed to The Associated Press that they had been interviewed, insisting on anonymity to discuss what they and Fairfax believe to be an ongoing investigation. A fourth person familiar with the matter who also insisted on anonymity confirmed that Fairfax had been interviewed. That person was not one of those interviewed.

Dee Rybiski, a Richmond-based FBI spokeswoman, declined to comment. The FBI does not typically confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

The allegations against Fairfax surfaced publicly in February 2019, as he appeared poised to become Virginia’s governor because of a scandal that had erupted over a racist photo on then-Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook page. With Northam facing near-unanimous calls to resign, Fairfax would have been elevated to the post. But then two women days apart accused him of an assault in 2004 and rape in 2000, resulting in demands that Fairfax resign and blunting the pressure on Northam. Both men ultimately went on to finish their terms.

Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor and civil litigator, said he has been in touch with the FBI on an “ongoing basis” since February 2019, providing evidence of what he has long alleged was a coordinated effort to block him from becoming governor. The news of his and other interviews was first reported by The Intercept.

Fairfax has claimed for years — without proof — that former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his close ally, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, played a role in surfacing the allegations, something McAuliffe and Stoney have called absurd. Fairfax points in part to connections between a former Stoney advisor and one of his accusers. Fairfax was once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, and he competed against McAuliffe and three others for last year’s Democratic nomination for governor; Stoney is also widely seen as a contender for higher office.

Fairfax said the FBI did not disclose the full scope of its apparent investigation but asked him questions about his concerns.

Stoney said at a news conference Wednesday that the FBI had not reached out to him or anyone in his “operation.” Stoney said he believes the women’s allegations, called the idea that he was involved in a smear campaign “ridiculous” and added the only one talking about the FBI was Fairfax.

“These are claims by an individual who has been accused of rape, bottom line,” he said.

Jake Rubenstein, a spokesman for McAuliffe, said McAuliffe “knows nothing about any of this. Period.”

Attorneys for the women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, defended their clients and criticized the idea that the FBI might be investigating.

Nancy Erika Smith, an attorney for Watson, said in a statement: “If it is true that the FBI is actually investigating two victims of Justin Fairfax, shame on the FBI. This latest abuse is obviously at the urging of Fairfax and his political benefactors and PR team.”

Debra Katz, an attorney for Vanessa Tyson, said neither she nor Tyson had been contacted by the FBI. She said she would be “shocked” if there was “a real FBI investigation” and suggested Fairfax was trying to weaponize the suggestion of one.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but both women came forward publicly with their allegations against Fairfax.

Tyson said Fairfax — at the time a Columbia Law School student serving as an aide to Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards — forced her to perform oral sex in his hotel room during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. Two days after Tyson’s statement, Watson issued her own, accusing Fairfax of raping her in 2000, when they were students at Duke University.

Fairfax has said that in the case of his encounter with Watson, an eyewitness was present in the room. That person has not responded to repeated interview requests from the AP and has not spoken publicly to confirm or deny Fairfax’s assertion.

Watson and her attorney have declined to address whether a third person was in the room.

One person who described being interviewed by the FBI in early July was asked if they had ever heard anything about money being exchanged in relation to the allegations, the person said.

The person had heard of something similar and reported it at the time to a spokesperson for Fairfax. The person, who is not close with Fairfax, has no firsthand knowledge of any payments and doubted that the individual who made the comment did either, the person said.

A second person who was interviewed was asked whether they had any knowledge about connections between the mayor’s office and the women or any possible payments to the women, the person said.

The third individual who was interviewed described being asked similar questions and provided the AP a copy of an apparent email exchange with the FBI.

Separately, Tommy Bennett, president of the Danville branch of the NAACP, told The Post that the FBI reached out to him to ask about the allegations.

Fairfax finished his term as lieutenant governor — a mostly ceremonial role that involves presiding over the state Senate — in January. He got about 4% of the vote in last year’s Democratic primary. McAuliffe won that contest, then went on to lose the general election to Republican Glenn Youngkin.


Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker reported from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Feds ask probation for ex-police officer who stormed Capitol

A former Virginia police officer who pleaded guilty to storming the U.S. Capitol with another off-duty officer deserves to avoid a prison sentence for his cooperation and trial testimony against the other officer, federal prosecutors argued in a court filing Tuesday. Justice Department prosecutors recommended six months of probation along with a period of home […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, left, listens as Bishop Megan Rohrer speaks to the media before thei...
Associated Press

Lutheran bishop issues public apology to Latino congregation

Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, issued a public apology Tuesday to members of a majority Latino immigrant congregation for the pain and trauma they endured after the predominantly white denomination’s first openly transgender bishop unexpectedly fired their pastor. Speaking during the 2022 Churchwide Assembly being held in Columbus, […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Former Twitter worker convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A former Twitter employee has been convicted of failing to register as an agent for Saudi Arabia and other charges after accessing private data on users critical of the kingdom’s government in a spy case that spanned from Silicon Valley to the Middle East. Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen and former […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

8 minority jail officers settle suit over guarding Chauvin

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Eight minority corrections officers who were working at the jail where a former Minneapolis police officer was awaiting trial in the death of George Floyd were awarded nearly $1.5 million Tuesday to settle a lawsuit. The officers filed the racial discrimination complaint after a Ramsey County Jail superintendent barred officers […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Executive had weapons stockpile in hospital closet

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — The marketing director of a northern New Jersey hospital is facing weapons charges after a bomb threat yielded what police said was a cache of weapons in the hospital. According to police in Secaucus, the bomb threat — which later was determined to be bogus — was called in to Hudson […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Homeless encampments block the street on an overpass of the Hollywood freeway in Los Angeles...
Associated Press

Los Angeles OKs sweeping ban on homeless camps near schools

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homeless encampments that have proliferated in nearly every neighborhood of Los Angeles will no longer be allowed within 500 feet (152 meters) of schools and day care centers under a sweeping ban approved Tuesday during a City Council meeting disrupted by protesters who said the law criminalizes homelessness. The council voted […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Former Va. Lt. Gov. Fairfax: FBI asks about 2019 allegations