State’s top Republican calls for Fairfax to resign

(Richmond, Va.) (AP) — The head of Virginia’s House of Delegates is calling for the resignation of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox said in a statement Saturday that Fairfax’s ability to govern has been “permanently impaired” by “multiple, serious credible allegations” of sexual assault made recently by two women.

Republican Cox is third in line should Gov. Ralph Northam resign over a racist yearbook photo that surfaced last week. Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring – who is also embroiled in a racist controversy – are ahead of Cox.

Earlier this week, a college professor accused Fairfax of assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. A second woman came forward on Friday, accusing Fairfax of rape. Fairfax has emphatically denied both allegations and said he won’t resign.

Meredith Watson, in a statement released Friday by her lawyer, said Fairfax committed a “premeditated and aggressive” sexual assault of Watson while both were students at Duke in 2000. In a statement later Friday, Watson described an incident with an unspecified Duke basketball player because “Fairfax has chosen to attack his victim again.”

“He revealed that Ms. Watson was the victim of a prior rape,” Nancy Erika Smith, Watson’s attorney, wrote in the second statement.  “That is true. Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke. She went to the Dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax. Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape.