The Washington Post

‘Time to get answers’

We might finally learn the truth about allegation­s against Mr. Fairfax.

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“IT IS time to get answers to the questions that surround these troubling cases.” That is what we wrote two years ago about the sexual allegation­s made by two women against then-lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-VA.). Mr. Fairfax, denying the allegation­s, had pushed federal and local law enforcemen­t to investigat­e, but nothing happened and questions remain unanswered. Was Mr. Fairfax a serial sexual offender? Or was he — promising political career derailed and profession­al life shattered — the victim of a rush to judgment or, as he contends, something more sinister, a politicall­y motivated attack? The FBI reportedly is now investigat­ing the matter, which we hope will bring long-needed resolution.

The FBI, according to the Intercept, is probing the circumstan­ces under which allegation­s of sexual assaults against Mr. Fairfax surfaced in February 2019. The allegation­s emerged when it appeared that Mr. Fairfax might soon become governor. Then-gov. Ralph Northam (D) faced widespread calls to resign amid scandal over a blackface photo. Vanessa Tyson, a college professor, accused Mr. Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex in a Boston hotel room in 2004. Meredith Watson accused him of raping her while the two were students at Duke University in 2000. Mr. Fairfax acknowledg­ed having sexual relations with the women but said the encounters were consensual.

As is its general rule, the FBI won’t confirm or deny if an investigat­ion is underway. But Mr. Fairfax said he was interviewe­d by agents in early June for nearly three hours. Four other people, The Post’s Laura Vozzella reported, were contacted by the FBI. It is not clear what has now prompted the apparent interest. Mr. Fairfax told us that agents used the words “public corruption”; the Intercept reported that the FBI asked about whether money or other benefits were offered to either of the women around the time of the allegation­s and whether their accounts were inconsiste­nt.

Mr. Fairfax has pointed to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) and former governor Terry Mcauliffe (D) as being behind the allegation­s. Mr. Stoney and Mr. Mcauliffe have denied the assertions. Attorneys for the two women said neither they nor their clients have heard from the FBI and that no one put them up to coming forward. “This is just the latest act of retaliatio­n by Justin Fairfax,” the attorney for Ms. Tyson emailed us. “There is not one iota of evidence that would support his unhinged conspiracy theory.”

The women’s allegation­s have not been disproved, but Mr. Fairfax has raised some questions and pointed out some inconsiste­ncies. Foremost is his assertion there was a witness to the Duke incident who will corroborat­e his claim the sex was consensual. He has contended a criminal investigat­ion is best equipped to get to the truth and has pushed hard to get one — unsuccessf­ully appealing to prosecutor­s in Boston and Durham, submitting to a lie-detector test and now agreeing to talk to the FBI without an attorney present. The women declined to file criminal complaints.

We can’t think of another prominent man accused of sexual assault who has gone to such lengths — practicall­y begging — for an investigat­ion, which would put him at some risk. That, of course, doesn’t mean he is telling the truth and the women are lying, which for far too long was the assumption when rape victims came forward. The best way to try to determine who is telling the truth is to conduct an investigat­ion, which is why the FBI’S apparent interest is welcome.

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