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Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As Second Accuser Comes Forward, Growing Calls for Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax to Resign

"We believe survivors, we believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson, we believe Meredith Watson. Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax must resign," said UltraViolet's Shaunna Thomas

Jake Johnson

After a second woman came forward on Friday and accused Virginia's Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, rights groups and lawmakers described the allegations as credible and called on Fairfax to resign immediately.

In a statement released through her lawyer, Meredith Watson alleged that Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000.

"Mr. Fairfax's attack was premeditated and aggressive," read Watson's statement, which comes just two days after Dr. Vanessa Tyson—a professor of politics at Scripps College in Claremont, California—issued a statement of her own accusing Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004.

"Sexual violence is never acceptable," UltraViolet executive director and co-founder Shaunna Thomas said after Watson released her statement. "We believe survivors, we believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson, we believe Meredith Watson. Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax must resign."

"Virginians deserve leaders they can trust and respect," Thomas concluded.

The allegations against Fairfax come as Virginia's Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is also facing calls to step down after the emergence of a racist yearbook photo from his medical school years.

Fairfax has denied both of the sexual assault accusations against him. In a statement on Friday, Fairfax said that he will not resign and asserted that the allegations are part of a "vicious and coordinated smear campaign."

In a joint statement on Friday, five of Virginia's seven Democratic House members—Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, and Jennifer Wexton—called the accusations against Fairfax "highly credible" and joined calls for him to resign.

"The lieutenant governor of Virginia presides over the Virginia Senate and must be prepared to fill the role of governor," the lawmakers said. "It is unacceptable that either of these weighty responsibilities be entrusted to someone who has engaged in the behavior described by Dr. Tyson and Meredith Watson, particularly in the light of Gov. Northam's situation, which we continue to believe requires his resignation."


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