Vanessa Tyson, the college professor who said Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted her 15 years ago, released a statement Wednesday detailing her allegations, even further complicating a chaotic week in Virginia politics.
"With tremendous anguish, I am now sharing this information about my experience and setting the record straight," Tyson said through the law firm she's hired after coming forward about the incident. "It has been extremely difficult to relive that traumatic experience from 2004."
Fairfax has denied that any nonconsensual sexual activity occurred in the days since the allegations first surfaced. Tyson's statement, released by Katz, Marshall & Banks, details the incident that she alleges occurred in a hotel room near the site of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where Tyson and Fairfax worked.
Tyson said that the event has caused her to suffer "deep humiliation" and "shame." Detailing the event, Tyson said Fairfax had invited her back to his hotel room to retrieve documents when he unexpectedly kissed her before pulling her toward the bed and eventually forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
"What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault," Tyson said. "I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite."
On Tuesday, Tyson hired Katz, Marshall & Banks, the law firm that also represented Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony to Congress that she had been sexually assaulted by then–Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
On Wednesday evening, Rakesh Kilaru, a partner at Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz—the law firm that represented Kavanaugh during Blasey Ford's testimony — confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Fairfax had retained them.
"I and my firm were retained by the Lieutenant Governor in January 2018 with respect to a possible story in a media publication and we are currently representing him as well," Kilaru said in e-mail.In a statement to BuzzFeed News Wednesday, Fairfax said he has "never done anything like what [Tyson] suggests" and that he has "nothing to hide."
"Any review of the circumstances would support my account, because it is the truth," he said. "I take this situation very seriously and continue to believe Dr. Tyson should be treated with respect. But, I cannot agree to a description of events that simply is not true."
The statement comes amid a chaotic week in Virginia politics that's seen Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring both separately admit to previously wearing blackface. Northam has rejected calls to resign since Friday, and Herring, who would be next in line for succession to governor after Fairfax, said in a statement Wednesday that he will be having "honest conversations and discussions" to "make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general."
Reports of Fairfax's alleged assault first surfaced when conservative political blog Big League Politics published a story Sunday night about the allegations.
Tyson said that once news broke about Northam, she voiced frustration in a private post from a personal Facebook page about a "campaign staffer" who had assaulted her who was about to get a "big promotion." Tyson said that before she could decide on a course of action, a publication had written a story about the allegations with a screenshot of her post.
In a statement tweeted early on Monday morning, Fairfax forcefully denied the allegations. He also said that the Washington Post had investigated the claims but ultimately decided not to publish the details of the allegation.
In a statement tweeted on Wednesday, Fairfax again denied the allegations raised by Tyson.
"As I have stated previously, fifteen years ago, when I was an unmarried law student, I had a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation," Fairfax said in the statement. "The first indication I had that she felt that anything that had happened between us fifteen years ago made her uncomfortable was when I was contacted by a national media organization shortly before my inauguration in 2018."
Tyson said in her statement that it has been "extremely difficult" to relive the experience. She added that Fairfax's suggestion that the Washington Post found her allegations not to be credible was "deceitful, offensive, and profoundly upsetting."
"Mr. Fairfax has tried to brand me as a liar to a national audience, in service to his political ambitions," Tyson said.
A source close to Tyson's legal team said that this is the only statement she'll make about the incident and that she is not giving interviews.