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Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax denies assault allegation as Gov. Ralph Northam considers resigning over racist yearbook photo furor

Key Points
  • Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would become governor if embattled Gov. Ralph Northam resigns, on Monday denied an assault allegation that was investigated by The Washington Post more than a year ago without a story being done.
  • Fairfax's denial came after Big League Politics, the same online outlet that exposed a racist photo on Northam's medical school yearbook, published a story about a possible sexual assault allegation against Fairfax.
  • Fairfax, who is a Democat, was not named by the woman in a Facebook post that she purportedly made. But the description of her alleged assailant's current employment status matches Fairfax's.
Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax addresses the media in response to Governor Ralph Northam's statement Saturday, February 2, 2019 Richmond, Va.
Julia Rendleman | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — who would become governor if embattled Gov. Ralph Northam resigns due to controversy over a racist yearbook photo — on Monday denied an assault allegation that had been investigated by The Washington Post previously.

Fairfax's denial, which was posted on Twitter at around 3 a.m. ET Monday, came soon after conservative site Big League Politics published a story about a possible sexual assault allegation against Fairfax by a woman.

Big League Politics is the same outlet that last Friday exposed a racist photo on Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page, sparking widespread and bipartisan calls for the governor's resignation.

Fairfax, who, like Northam, is a Democrat, was not named by the woman in a Facebook post that she purportedly made. But the description of her alleged assailant's current employment status matches Fairfax's.

In his statement, Fairfax, 39, denied he had ever "assaulted anyone" and referred to the allegation as a "false claim." He also said that The Washington Post had investigated the allegation for several months more than a year ago, but declined to publish a story after being presented facts consistent with Fairfax's denial.

In a news conference later Monday, he repeated those adamant denials, while calling the claim against him a "smear" that had been resurfaced to damage his chance of being elevated to governor.

"Does anybody believes this is coincidence? I don't believe anybody believes that's a coincidence," Fairfax said. "It's uncorroborated because it's not true ... it goes away for a year and it crops back up at this moment."

Fairfax, during his news conference, said, "I have lived my entire life in a way that I'm proud of."

"It didn't happen," he said of the woman's allegation.

The woman mentioned in Big League Politics' story about Fairfax did not respond to requests for comment by CNBC. The woman is not being named by CNBC.

A request for comment from Fairfax was not immediately answered.

A spokesman for The Washington Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the Post in a story published Monday took issue with Fairfax's claim that the newspaper dropped the story because of "significant red flags and inconsistencies" in the woman's claim.

The Post reported, "The woman approached The Post after Fairfax won election in November 2017 and before he was inaugurated in January 2018, saying she felt like she had an obligation to speak out."

"The woman and Fairfax first met in Boston at the 2004 Democratic national convention," the newspaper reported. "During a conversation, the two realized they had a mutual friend. It was that commonality, she recalled, that put her at ease enough that on the afternoon Fairfax asked her to walk with him to his hotel room to pick up some papers, she thought nothing of joining him."

The Post also said that "Fairfax and the woman told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present."

"The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version. The Post did not find 'significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,' as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said."

The newspaper detailed the woman's claims of a sexual encounter with Fairfax "that left her crying and shaken."

Fairfax told the newspaper the encounter was consensual, according to The Post.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam speaks with reporters at a press conference at the Governor's mansion on February 2, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.
Alex Edelman | Getty Images

Big League Politics on Friday published a story revealing that Northam's yearbook page in 1984 at Eastern Virginia Medical School included a photo of two men — one in blackface, and another garbed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.

That story set off widespread calls from leading Democrats, including Virginia's two U.S. senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, for Northam to resign. That would make make Fairfax, who is black, governor.

Northam has so far refused to resign. The governor told members of his staff Monday morning that he needs more time to deliberate about his next steps, according to NBC News, which cited a source familiar with the matter.