By Daniel Berti
The woman who accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2004 has come forward and released a statement outlining her allegations against Fairfax.
Vanessa Tyson, a political science professor at Scripps College in California, described her assault in graphic detail in a written statement issued by her legal representatives Katz, Marshall and Banks. It is the same firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of assault during his confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tyson said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, where they were both working.
“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into sexual assault,” Tyson wrote. “To be clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent.”
Tyson first brought the allegations to The Washington Post shortly after Fairfax was elected lieutenant governor in 2017, but the story was never published. Then, in January 2018, Fairfax retained the law firm of Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz — the same law firm that represented Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearings.
According to The Post, Fairfax and Tyson “told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present,” and the newspaper couldn’t find anyone who could corroborate either version.
Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegations and called the accusation a smear campaign meant to derail his possible elevation to governor. Gov. Ralph Northam is under increasing pressure to resign because of a racist picture in his medical school yearbook — if he does, Fairfax would become the next governor of Virginia.
In a statement Monday, Fairfax’s chief of staff, Lawrence Roberts, called the Tyson’s claim “unsubstantiated” and said The Post had decided not to report the story in 2017 because there were “significant red flags and inconsistencies” surrounding the woman’s accusations.
Fairfax is married and a father of four, but he was single in 2004 when the alleged assault happened. He told reporters Monday that the sex was consensual.
On Monday evening, The Post challenged Fairfax’s earlier statement and said its reporters did not find any significant red flags and inconsistencies with the allegation when it was raised in 2017.
Tyson said that part of the reason she decided to issue a public statement about the matter was to clear her name. “Mr. Fairfax’s suggestion that The Washington Post found me not to be credible was deceitful, offensive and profoundly upsetting,” she wrote.
“I have never wavered in my account because I am telling the truth,” Tyson added.
The National Organization for Women called on Fairfax to resign Wednesday afternoon, saying that Tyson made a “brave decision” to come forward.
“Her story is horrifying, compelling and clear as day — and we believe her,” said NOW President Toni Van Pelt. “We believe and support survivors.”
In a statement Monday night, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said it “takes all allegations of sexual assault or misconduct with the utmost seriousness.”
“Given the recent allegations regarding Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, the VLBC will continue to assess this developing situation as more details become available,” the group’s statement added.
Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic Party of Virginia said that “all allegations of sexual assault deserve to be taken with profound gravity” and that the party will continue to “evaluate the claims against Fairfax.”
In her statement, Tyson credited the #MeToo movement for motivating her to come forward with her story.
“The courage of so many women coming forward to confront powerful men and systems that allow such abuse to occur are part of what inspired me to action,” Tyson wrote.
Stoney administration commits $25-50 million for commemoration, memorialization of “complete history”
The first investment of $3.5M will fund the Shockoe Area Memorial Park campus.
Surrounded by members of the Shockoe Alliance on Tuesday, Mayor Stoney committed to funding a capital improvement budget amendment of between $25 and 50 million in the city’s five-year CIP plan specifically for the commemoration and memorialization of what he calls “Richmond’s complete history.”
The mayor asserted that the shared priority of the Shockoe Alliance and city leadership is embracing and “telling the truth about Richmond’s history, centralizing the turmoil, resistance, resilience, and triumphs of Black Richmond.”
“Black lives built this city. Black lives have defined Richmond’s history. They matter,” Stoney said. “The story of Black lives should span our skyline, our landscape, and our textbooks accordingly.”
Priority investments will include the Shockoe Area, various African American burial grounds, and the Slave Trail. The effort will begin with a $3.5 million investment in the Shockoe Area Memorial Park.
The memorial park, a vision developed by the Shockoe Alliance and informed by decades of community work in the area, will use greenspace and structural sites such as a heritage center or museum to create a space of memorialization, education, and atonement.
The space will encompass the African American Burial Ground, the Devil’s Half Acre site, and the two blocks east of the railroad tracks that may constitute a future archeological site.
“In this city, we care about our history. We are our history, no matter how painful that may be to confront, and we are committed to telling our full story,” said Mayor Stoney. “That story, and so rightfully that investment, begins here. On the ground of Shockoe, and in honor of our ancestors.”
Richmond reschedules National Night Out events due to COVID-19 concerns
Events will be tentatively rescheduled for October 6th, 2020.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Richmond Police Department is rescheduling this year’s National Night Out.
National Night Out will be tentatively held on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.
“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 conditions in Richmond,” police said in a release. “Please watch RPD’s social media sites for updates.”
National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police‐community partnerships, and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
As we get closer to the rescheduled date, RPD will provide updates on the status of 2020 National Night Out.
Daily Planet pleads with community for water donations for homeless during heatwave
The nonprofit needs supplies to distribute to the homeless population during the hottest time of year.
With Richmond already experiencing its first significant heatwave of the summer, and with more expected in August, Daily Planet Health Services (DPHS) is asking those that are able to, to donate bottled water and pre-packaged, single-serve snacks to the nonprofit. The supplies will be distributed directly to the homeless living around Richmond, helping to ensure this population has the necessary resources to stay hydrated and nourished during the hottest part of the summer.
This week (July 27-31), a DPHS employee will be set up to receive donations in the parking lot of the 517 W Grace St parking lot from 8:30 a.m.-noon. If someone would like to donate water or snacks outside of that timeframe, they can call the nonprofit at 804-783-2505 x 230 to set up a donation.
74 percent of DPHS’ patients are at or below the poverty level, and as the Healthcare for the Homeless Grantee, the nonprofit serves the region’s homeless. Typically, summer and winter months are the most difficult for these populations, but given the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, they now have even fewer resources available to them.
“With so many of the traditional places that our homeless population utilizes to cool off and hydrate during the hot summer months – like libraries, restaurants and community centers – either closed or drastically limiting capacity, many are left without an avenue to escape the heat,” said Taylor Garrett, outreach coordinator at Daily Planet Health Services. “We’ve unfortunately already seen firsthand this summer the dire impact the heat can have on the homeless population, and we’re hopeful that the Richmond community can come together to help us get nourishment to those that need it most.”