“I Suffered Deep Humiliation”: Woman Accusing Virginia Lieutenant Governor of Sexual Assault Speaks Out

Vanessa Tyson is being represented by the same attorneys as Christine Blasey Ford.

Bob Brown/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Vanessa Tyson, the woman who has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004, released a statement on Wednesday detailing her allegations.

“I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual,” Tyson, who is now a professor at Scripps College, wrote as she outlined her encounter with Fairfax during the 2015 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

“After the assault, I suffered from both deep humiliation and shame,” she continued. “I did not speak about it for years, and I (like most survivors) suppressed those memories and emotions as necessary means to continue my studies, and to pursue my goal of building a successful career as an academic.”

Fairfax is second in line to become governor if Gov. Ralph Northam resigns amid a separate scandal involving a photo from Northam’s medical school yearbook identifying the governor in a photo of a pair of men in which one is wearing blackface and the other is wearing a KKK hood. Fairfax has denied Tyson’s claims, which were first reported Sunday on the same far-right news site that first exposed Northam’s racist photo just days before.

In a news conference Monday, Fairfax suggested that he was the victim of a conservative smear campaign. “Does anybody believe that’s a coincidence?” he asked. “I don’t believe anybody believes that it’s any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated, that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out.”

You can read Tyson’s statement in full below. She is being represented by Katz, Marshall & Banks, the same legal team hired by Christine Blasey Ford.



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend