Fairfax accuser has 6 months to file charges in Boston
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax could face rape charges in Boston over an accusation that he forced a woman to have sex with him at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, though no charges have been filed.
The state’s 15-year statute of limitations for the crime expires in July, leaving several more months for Vanessa Tyson to ask authorities to investigate her claim that Mr. Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him.
A spokesman for the district attorney in Boston said Thursday that charges have not been filed but that the process is open should Ms. Tyson, now a college professor, want to make a formal complaint.
Rape and sexual assault prosecutions usually start with the victim making a complaint, but District Attorney Rachael Rollins has other options.
“Every case is different and could be approached differently,” said Ms. Rollins’ spokesman, Jake Wark.
Ms. Tyson’s attorney refused to say whether she would pursue criminal charges or what her next step would be.
The bombshell allegation this week added to the political inferno engulfing Democratic leaders in Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring are on the hot seat for wearing blackface in the 1980s.
The rape allegations are by far the most serious and expose Mr. Fairfax, a 39-year-old rising star in the Democratic Party, to criminal prosecution and, if convicted, up to 20 years in prison.
Mr. Fairfax said the sexual encounter was “100 percent consensual.”
He initially accused Ms. Tyson of engaging in a political “smear,” but he toned down his attacks after she released a statement Wednesday detailing the incident, which said “Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch.”
“I have no political motive. I am a proud Democrat,” Ms. Tyson wrote.
Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment on Thursday became the first Republican snared in the blackface controversy. It was discovered that he was managing editor of Virginia Military Institute’s 1968 yearbook, The Bomb, which included photos of men in blackface and other racially offensive material.
“With 114 editions of The Bomb available online dating back to 1885, I am not surprised that those wanting to engulf Republican leaders in the current situations involving the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general would highlight the yearbook from my graduation a half century ago,” said Mr. Norment, who noted his support of integrating VMI that year.
Saying the use of blackface was “abhorrent,” Mr. Norment stressed that he was neither responsible for nor associated with the offensive photos.
While Mr. Northam is under unrelenting pressure to step down because of a blackface photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, Mr. Fairfax, who is black, has been mostly spared from resignation calls.