The National Organization for Women (NOW) called on Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax to resign Wednesday in response to the sexual assault allegation leveled against him earlier this week.
“Dr. Vanessa Tyson has made the brave decision to come forward and reveal in her own words what happened between her and Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Her story is horrifying, compelling and clear as day – and we believe her,” NOW president Toni Van Pelt said in a statement.
“We believe and support survivors. We always believe and support survivors.This is more important than who is going to be the next governor of Virginia,” he continued. “This isn’t about politics. It’s about a woman who has experienced sexual assault – a serious crime – at the hands of a powerful man, who is now attacking her character. In order to tear down the systemic and toxic sexism in this country, we must speak out against it. Enough is enough.”
The call for Fairfax’s resignation comes just hours after Tyson, an associate politics professor at Scripps College in California, released a detailed statement accusing Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Fairfax immediately denied the allegation after it became public Sunday evening, and cited the Washington Post’s refusal to publish the account to substantiate his denial.
Tyson’s allegation emerged just as Fairfax appeared poised to succeed Ralph Northam as governor of Virginia. Northam is facing a nearly unanimous call to resign from prominent Democrats outraged over the emergence of a racist photo on his 1984 medical school year book page.
Virginia attorney general Mark Herring, who would ascend to the governorship should Northam and Fairfax both resign, also admitted Wednesday to wearing blackface to a party when he was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia in 1980.