Virginia Lt. Gov. accusers say they will testify if state has impeachment proceedings

Justin Fairfax said again Saturday that the encounters were consensual and he wanted the claims against him to be investigated.

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By Phil McCausland and Kalhan Rosenblatt

The two women who have accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault said late Saturday that they are willing to testify if the state General Assembly launches impeachment proceedings against him.

Nancy Erika Smith, an attorney for Meredith Watson, called for "real due process, not hidden from the public," according to a statement.

Watson claims she was raped by Fairfax while they were students at Duke University in 2000, and Vanessa Tyson has accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex in 2004 while they were both at the Democratic Convention in Boston.

Fairfax denies the accusations and says he will remain in office, and he has called for an FBI investigation into the claims.

Smith said Fairfax's request for an investigation is insufficient because the FBI does not normally have jurisdiction over these types of allegations.

"We will provide at least two witnesses whom Ms. Watson told of the assault the day after Fairfax raped her," Smith said in the statement. "We will also produce documentary evidence of Ms. Watson revealing to others the fact that Fairfax raped her."

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Tyson's attorneys, Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks, said their client would also testify against Fairfax in any impeachment proceedings.

"Lt. Governor Fairfax’s assertion that these sexual assaults were consensual,while simultaneously trying both on and off the record to discredit the victims, says all you need to know about his lack of fitness to serve in public office," they said in a statement.

Earlier Saturday, Virginia Democrats called on Fairfax to resign after Watson became the second woman to accuse the political rising star of sexual assault, a revelation that came after the party's other two top Democrats admitted to wearing blackface in their youth.

On Saturday night, Fairfax released a statement saying the past week had been "devastating" for not only his family but for the state of Virginia. He reiterated that his past encounters with accusers Watson and Vanessa Tyson were consensual.

Fairfax claimed he spoke with both women after the alleged assaults and neither indicated that his interactions had "caused her any discomfort."

"I am asking that no one rush to judgment and I am asking for there to be space in this moment for due process," Fairfax said.

But the state party chairwoman, Susan Swecker, said allegations of sexual assault needed be taken seriously and because of the accusers' credibility, Fairfax could "no longer fulfill the duties and responsibilities of his post."

"While the Lieutenant Governor deserves due process in this matter, it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth that he goes through this process as a private citizen," she said in a statement. "The Lieutenant Governor no longer has our confidence or support. He must resign."

The Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association on Saturday replaced Fairfax as chairman of the organization.

Whatever his decision — stay or resign — Fairfax has lost the support of party leaders from the state, as well as many 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

The list includes former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kristen Gillibrand of New York.

"Lieutenant Governor Fairfax should resign. The allegations against him detail atrocious crimes, and he can no longer effectively serve the Commonwealth," said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. "We cannot ever ignore or tolerate sexual assault."

Virginia Delegate Patrick Hope has said he would introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax on Monday if the lieutenant governor has not stepped down by then.

Dennis Romero contributed.