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A woman came forward on Wednesday to personally accuse the Democratic lieutenant governor of Virginia of raping her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Vanessa Tyson issued a stinging statement through her lawyers, saying: 'What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth.'
'Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.
'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.'
Democratic Rep; Jennifer Wexton became the first member of Virginia's congressional delegation to weigh in on the Fairfax scandal, tweeting Wednesday afternoon: 'I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson.'
The 39-year-old Fairfax's political future seemed to unravel in slow-motion on Wednesday as sources told NBC News that he had snapped out of his normal mild manner to condemn Tyson during a private meeting with staff – shouting: 'F**k that b***h!'
Lawrence Roberts, Fairfax's chief of staff, insisted to a Washington Post reporter that the lieutenant governor never said those words: 'Absolutely not true. I was there.'
Virginians are in danger of losing all three of their top government officials, after both Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that they had worn blackface to imitate African-Americans decades ago.
SCROLL DOWN TO READ MS. TYSON'S COMPLETE STATEMENT
Stanford University fellow Vanessa Tyson suggested in a private Facebook post that Virignia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004; she said Wednesday that he 'forced me to perform oral sex on him'
Fairfax has denied Tyson's claim but reportedly snapped in a recent staff meeting: 'F**k that b***h!'
Democratic Rep. Jennifer Sexton, a Virginia freshman congresswoman, sided with Fairfax's accuser late on Wednesday
MORE TROUBLE: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted Wednesday that, like Governor Ralph Northam, he once wore blackface to dress up like an African-American
Herring (center) with former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (left) and current Gov. Ralph Northam (right)
An NBC reporter first learned that Justin Fairfax told his staff about Vanessa Tyson's rape claim: 'F**k that b***h'
Vanessa Tyson claims Fairfax raped her in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
Before his own potentially disqualifying scandal erupted, Herring stood to become governor if Northam and Fairfax found the political heat too much to bear.
Herring told members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus during an emergency closed-door meeting Wednesday morning that he wore blackface on at least one occasion while he was a University of Virginia student in 1980.
'In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,' he later said in a lengthy statement.
'It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes - and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others - we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.'
'This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct. That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.'
Herring had planned to run for Virginia in 2021. The state's governors are limited by law to one term in office.
In this Jan. 12, 2018 file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, center, walks with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, right, and Attorney General Mark Herring, left
This photograph, from Tyson's Twitter account, shows the college professor at a conference of the American Politicla Science Association
Herring said he wore 'brown makeup' when he dressed up as rappers of the time, like Kurtis Blow, seen here in 1980
If all three Democrats should all step down, a Republican, State Assembly Speaker Kirkland Cox (above) would take over as governor
Mark Warner, one of Virginia's two Democratic U.S. senators, told reporters at the Capitol in Washington: 'I'm shocked and incredibly disappointed. This has been an awful week for Virginia.'
Fairfax's victory as lieutenant governor made him a first-time officeholder, but the young African-American former prosecutor was seen as a rising star and one to watch on the national scene.
He stood his ground in the state Capitol building on Monday, claiming the 2004 sexual encounter was '100 percent consensual.'
Fairfax was at the time the personal aide to John Edwards, who was then the Democratic vice-presidential running mate of Sen. John Kerry.
'We hit it off, she was very interested in me, and so eventually, at one point, we ended up going to my hotel room,' he said.
Taylor is a Scripps College political science professor with a fellowship at Stanford University.
Her attorneys are the same lawyers who represented Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who nearly derailed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation with a claim of a decades-old drunken sexual assault.
Tyson's lengthy statement on Wednesday described her memories in detail and explained her decade-long work as a volunteer at a rape crisis center
Ralph Northam has denied being in a racist photograph that appeared in his 1984 school yearbook and is refusing all calls to step down, although he admitted wearing blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson in a dance contest after he graduated from medical school
The yearbook page from Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook is seen above. He claimed he had not bought or seen his yearbook in the last 34 years
Fallout continues to accumulate from Governor Ralph Northan's admission that he wore blackface after graduating from medical school, and a sexual assault allegation against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax dating back 15 years.
The deepening scandal now puts Virginia's three top officials – all of them Democrats – in danger of being forced out of office.
If they should all step down, a Republican, State Assembly Speaker Kirkland Cox, would take over the statehouse. Unless Northam were to remain governor, whoever holds his office could run for a full term in 2021 despite the state's 'one and your done' term-limit law.
That outcome would mean a single November 2017 legislative race would have decided things: Election officials drew lots to determine the winner of a tied election that was decisive in awarding Republicans a one-seat edge in the assembly, and, thus, the power to Cox as speaker.
In a further twist, Cox would lead a state assembly impeachment process if lawmakers decided to try to force the embattled Democrats out.
The very bright light that is shining on Virginia right now is sparking a painful but, I think we all hope, important conversation. The stakes are high, and our spirits are low.
I am sure we all have done things at one time or another in our lives that show poor judgment, and worse yet, have caused some level of pain to others. I have a glaring example from my past that I have thought about with deep regret in the many years since, and certainly each time I took a step forward in public service, realizing that my goals and this memory could someday collide and cause pain for people I care about, those who stood with me in the many years since, or those who I hoped to serve while in office.
In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.
This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct.
That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.
Although the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades, and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling. Where they have deserved to feel heard, respected, understood, and honestly represented, I fear my actions have contributed to them being forced to revisit and feel a historical pain that has never been allowed to become history.
This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.
As a senator and as attorney general, I have felt an obligation to not just acknowledge but work affirmatively to address the racial inequities and systemic racism that we know exist in our criminal justice system, in our election processes, and in other institutions of power. I have long supported efforts to empower communities of color by fighting for access to healthcare, making it easier and simpler to vote, and twice defended the historic re-enfranchisement of former felons before the Supreme Court of Virginia. I have launched efforts to make our criminal justice system more just, fair, and equal by addressing implicit bias in law enforcement, establishing Virginia's first-ever program to improve re-entry programs in local jails, and pushing efforts to reform the use of cash bail. And I have tried to combat the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence that is plaguing our Commonwealth and our country.
That I have contributed to the pain Virginians have felt this week is the greatest shame I have ever felt. Forgiveness in instances like these is a complicated process, one that necessarily cannot and should not be decided by anyone but those directly affected by the transgressor, should forgiveness be possible or appropriate at all. In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.oving Virginia's government into Republican hands could have a significant effect on the 2020 presidential race: The Old Dominion is a swing state where turnout, often driven by statewide officials, could determine the outcome of the White House contest.
The scandals, which have piled one on top of another since Northam's photo was revealed on Friday, have rocked the Democratic establishment in Virginia.
Northam had a comfortable win for Democrats in 2017 - a time when the party was concerned about the power of President Donald Trump to bring out Republicans.
Fairfax has tried to peddle a political conspiracy theory and suggested Northam's supporters were behind the allegation in an attempt to block his rise to the governorship as Northam hunkers down to weigh his options.
'Does anybody think it's any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that's when this smear comes out?' Fairfax told reporters in the state Capitol on Monday.
But later that day he walked it back, telling reporters he had 'no indication' that Northam was responsible.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, told reporters: 'I'm shocked and incredibly disappointed. This has been an awful week for Virginia'
Mark Herring's Facebook page featured photos of him with prominent Democrats as he's seen here with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
The firestorm around Fairfax came as Northam continued to refuse to resign in the wake of his admission that he once covered his face in shoe polish to impersonate Michael Jackson.
Fairfax, 39, also claimed in a written statement that the Washington Post had investigated the claim when he ran for lieutenant governor but had not pursued it because of 'significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations.'
But within hours that claim was called 'incorrect' by the Washington Post, which said it had not been able to corroborate either version and had not found any 'red flags' in the woman's account.
The Post did not name the woman, but the website Big League Politics -which first revealed how Northam had a picture on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface beside a man in a KKK outfit - revealed how Vanessa Tyson, a Stanford academic, had hinted at accusing Fairfax of assault.
It published a private social media posting made on Sunday, which Tyson was said to have given permission to make public, which said: 'Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC Convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer.
'You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day uo find out he's the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and we wins that election in November 2017.
'Then by some strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he'll get a VERY BIG promotion.'
Herring speaks with former Vice President Joe Biden
Unprecedented: Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax declined to defend the governor, Ralph Northam, but was himself engulfed in his own scandal with accusations of forced sex and lies
Tyson lives in Los Angeles, roughly 3,000 miles from Virginia, and the biographical details align with Fairfax.
She is a Scripps College professor who is currently a Stanford fellow. Her fellowship is focusing, according to the college's website, on 'politics and policies surrounding sexual violence against women and children in the United States.
'More specifically, she will explore political discourse surrounding sexual assault, corresponding policies, and the unique identities of sexual assault survivors.'
It notes that Tyson, a Princeton and University of Chicago graduate, has volunteered as an advocate for sexual violence awareness and prevention. DailyMail.com has reached out to her for comment.
Fairfax and the Washington Post both confirmed that the newspaper investigated allegations of an assault at the convention - although neither named the alleged victim.
The account given in the Post said that the woman was left 'crying and shaken.'
'She said Fairfax guided her to the bed, where they continued kissing, and then at one point she realized she could not move her neck,' the newspaper reported.
'She said Fairfax used his strength to force her to perform oral sex.'
The Washington Post said Monday that it was approached by the woman in 2017 and carefully investigated but never published a story for lack of any independent evidence.
Outspoken: Vanessa Tyson - whose social media post calling herself a sex assault survivor aligns with the Washington Post investigation into VA Lt Gov Justin Fairfax for sex assault - has used Twitter to pass comment on issues around sexual assault, including the Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearing
The Post said the woman had not told anyone about it, the account could not be corroborated, Fairfax denied it, and the Post was unable to find other similar allegations against him among people who knew him in college, law school or in politics.
WUSA9 was also aware of the claim and decided against airing it after it could not corroborate the story, the news channel said.
A statement from his office early Monday morning denied the assault charge and said, 'Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect.
'He has never assaulted anyone - ever - in any way, shape, or form.'
At the state capitol, Fairfax told reporters it was a 'smear.'
Northam, meanwhile, has been hunkered down behind closed doors as he weighs his political future.
He had held on despite a disastrous five days which saw him first admit he was in the yearbook picture, then deny it, then admit he put on shoe polish to impersonate Michael Jackson, use a press conference to say it was difficult to get off, and only be stopped by his wife from Moonwalking, and be called on to resign by dozens of senior Democrats.
Time to go: Virginia's governor Ralph Northam was the focus of protests in Richmond
Pressure point: Ralph Northam has now hung on since Friday's revelation of the contents of his yearbook page and is facing more calls to go
A photo on Northam's yearbook page depicts a man in blackface and another in a KKK robe. Northam said he felt sick when he saw the image recently, despite covering his face in shoe polish to emulate Michael Jacko
Northam has resisted calls from Democratic leaders to step down.
Among those calling for his resignation: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic National Committe Chairman Tom Perez, both Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Northam did not help his cause in his bizarre press conference on Saturday, Northam denied appearing in the photograph that he on Friday apologized for, but he admitted that he did wear blackface for a Michael Jackson costume the same year.
The 59-year-old from Nassawadox admitted dressing up as the late singer, wearing similar footwear, a glove and shoe polish to look like an African-American person.
Making his revelation worse, he told attendees the reason why he only wore a 'little bit' of shoe polish was because it's difficult to remove.
'I don't know if anybody's tried this...' he said to the shocked room. But it didn't explain why he was wearing blackface to show off his dance talent during the skit.
Northam told the audience during question time: 'I have discussed this with a person of color. I apologized to him.'