Vanessa Tyson has accused Virginia Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax. After days of only hearing from Fairfax and people attempting to brush aside her claims, Tyson has come forward with her own statement:

What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth. Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him. I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite. I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and I never spoke to him again.

After the assault, I suffered from both deep humiliation and shame. I did not speak about it for years, and I (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as a necessary means to continue my studies, and to pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic. At the time, I found this horrific incident especially degrading given my regular volunteer work at a local rape crisis center. Over the next decade or so, I would go on to earn my PhD from the University of Chicago and become a tenured professor at Scripps College, a prestigious women’s college in Claremont, California.

Unlike Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Tyson remembers the day, place, and all the details.

Believe all women, right?

She learned in October 2017 that Fairfax wanted to run for Lt. Gov. of Virginia. The image of Fairfax hit her “like a ton of bricks, triggering buried traumatic memories and the feelings of humiliation” that she tried to bury. She didn’t know what to do, but told her close friends that reside in Virginia about the assault.

The #MeToo movement gave her power to speak out and Tyson details how she approached The Washington Post about the assault, which ultimately decided not to run the story. She also explains what happened after her private post on Facebook went public:

After The Washington Post decided in March 2018 not to run my story, I felt powerless, frustrated, and completely drained. Again I tried to bury memories of this painful incident and focus on my work and my students.

On Friday, February 1, 2019, as stories appeared in the media suggesting that Governor Northam would have to resign and that Mr. Fairfax would be sworn in as Governor, I felt a jarring sense of both outrage and despair. That night I vented my frustration on Facebook in a message that I wrote as a private post. I did not identify Lt. Governor Fairfax by name but stated that it seemed inevitable that the campaign staffer who assaulted me during the Democratic Convention in 2004 was about to get a big promotion. It was not my intention in that moment to inject myself into what has become a much larger political battle.

The following morning, I was inundated with messages of care and concern from friends — including many I had told about the sexual assault — and numerous inquiries from journalists who had become aware of my post. Over the weekend, I was undecided about whether to speak out publicly. I knew that if I did so, I would immediately face accusations about my motives and be branded a liar, as is routinely the case when women come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent men.

The Washington Post tried to explain that it chose not run the story because it found “significant red flags and inconsistencies with the allegations.” In his early morning statement, Fairfax lashed out. Tyson says that his “suggestion that The Washington Post found me not to be credible was deceitful, offensive, and profoundly upsetting.”

Tyson writes that Fairfax’s smear campaign against her is not proof that he did nothing wrong. She mentions how he brought up a 2007 video where she “talked about being the victim of incest and molestation,” but never brought up the assault from 2004. She insists that this “is not proof that he did not assault me” and the fact that he has used “this video to say the opposite is despicable and an offense to sexual assault survivors everywhere.”

The statement comes out right after NBC News learned from sources that Fairfax said “f*ck that bitch” in a meeting on Monday in reference to Tyson.


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