Duke Asks Lt. Gov. Fairfax to Step Down over Sexual Assault Allegations
Sexual abuse allegations against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax have prompted Duke University officials to call for his resignation from its Board of Visitors.
According to the Duke Chronicle, officials from the university’s Sanford School of Public Policy informed community members about the decision to ask Fairfax to step down in an email on Friday.
“I am writing to let you know that Justin Fairfax will be asked to step down from the Sanford School Board of Visitors pending the resolution of the serious and deeply distressing allegations that have been made against him,” Dean Judith Kelley wrote.
“Sexual assault is abhorrent and unfortunately can occur right around us. I urge everyone to take survivors of sexual assault seriously, and to help build an environment that is safe and supportive for everyone.”
Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault by a political science professor, Vanessa Tyson, and lawyer Meredith Watson. Tyson claimed that he assaulted her in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention, while Watson said that she was raped when both her and Fairfax were undergraduate students at Duke University.
“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” Watson’s lawyer Nancy E. Smith told the Associated Press.
“She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.”
Meanwhile, Fairfax has denied the allegations and is seeking a thorough investigation into Watson’s claims.
“I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” he said. “I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.”
The latest allegations have raised the pitch for Fairfax’s resignation, while some lawmakers are even considering the option of impeachment.