The second woman to accuse embattled Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault claims the alleged incident occurred a year after she said she was also raped by an unnamed Duke basketball player, A.J. Perez of USA Today reports.
Meredith Watson came forward Friday alleging that Fairfax raped her 19 years ago while the two were students at Duke, describing the incident as “premeditated and aggressive” and noting they had been friends at the time in a statement released by her lawyer.
In a second statement released later Friday, Watson claimed the attack was tied to another rape involving a Duke basketball player that allegedly occurred a year earlier in 1999. Watson reportedly told Fairfax about the incident.
From USA Today:
“He revealed that Ms. Watson was the victim of a prior rape,” Nancy Erika Smith, Watson’s attorney, wrote in the second statement. “That is true. Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke. She went to the Dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax. Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape.”
“She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out. She turned and asked, ‘Why did you do it?’ Mr. Fairfax answered: “I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.”
A Duke spokesman told USA Today that they had only just become aware of the allegations and are now looking into them. Fairfax denied Watson’s claims.
Fairfax is also facing accusations of sexual assault from his first accuser, Vanessa Tyson, who came forward earlier this week to publicly accuse the 39-year-old of forcing her to perform oral sex during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax did not deny he had an encounter with Tyson, but said it was consensual and the accusation was an attempt to smear him when he was poised to become governor of Virginia.
Virginia’s current governor, Ralph Northam, as well its attorney general, Mark Herring, have been embroiled in a controversy surrounding use of blackface for the past week. A picture of a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit on Northam’s yearbook page surfaced last week, while Herring said Wednesday that he dressed in blackface in college.
Northam, Fairfax and Herring, who are now all facing calls to resign, represent the top three rungs in the line of succession of Virginia’s governorship, the fourth being Stephen Newman, the president pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia.
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