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Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax's accuser goes public, hires Christine Blasey Ford's legal team

Fairfax has emphatically denied the allegation and said the encounter was consensual.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Tuesday denied a sexual assault allegation from 2004.Logan Cyrus / AFP - Getty Images

The woman accusing Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault 15 years ago has hired Christine Blasey Ford's legal team to represent her.

Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in California who is currently on leave, has accused Fairfax of sexual assault in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Vanessa Tyson
Vanessa Tysonvia Scripps College

Tyson hired Katz, Marshall & Banks to represent her, NBC News has confirmed. That legal team represented Ford, who accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when both were in high school.

A source close to Tyson's legal team gave NBC News permission to identify her.

Fairfax has said that the encounter was consensual and that he was being "smeared" by the allegation.

The allegation against Fairfax has come under the spotlight as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam faces calls to resign from fellow Democrats after a photo from his page in a 1984 medical school yearbook showed a man in a Ku Klux Klan robe and another in blackface.

Northam, who has resisted calls to resign and said he needs more time to decide, said Saturday that he was not in the photo although he had admitted the day before that one of the men was him.

Fairfax, 39, is next in line for the governorship if Northam steps down. On Sunday night, a far-right blog called Big League Politics — the same outlet that originally published Northam's 1984 yearbook — reported on the alleged sexual assault.

NBC News has reached out to Tyson for comment.