Fairfax calls for criminal investigations, says law enforcement review will exonerate him

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is calling for criminal investigations in the communities where two women say he sexually assaulted them.

Speaking with WDBJ7 by phone from northern Virginia Thursday afternoon, he denied the allegations, and said a formal investigation by law enforcement officials will exonerate him.

"We've called since February for investigations into those claims which we know are false," Fairfax said, "but we want them to be resolved, and be resolved publicly. And we also know the truth will exonerate me."

This week, the Lieutenant Governor's attorney sent letters to prosecutors in Boston, Massachusetts and Durham, North Carolina, the two communities where his accusers say he assaulted them.

The attorney asked both offices to open criminal investigations.

"Just as no serious crime should go unprosecuted," attorney Barry Pollack wrote, "no innocent person should have his reputation tarnished by a false allegation."

He said Fairfax is willing to be interviewed and will provide testimony under oath.

"We want this resolved both for myself and my family, but really for all Virginians," Fairfax told WDBJ7. "They deserve this resolved. They deserve a law enforcement investigation to get to the truth and that's what we're focused on."

Attorneys representing Dr. Vanessa Tyson, one of the women who has accused Fairfax of sexual misconduct, issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

They described the Lieutenant Governor's latest action as "a political stunt" that shows a lack of respect for survivors of sexual violence.

Following is the full text of the statement from Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks, Attorneys for Vanessa Tyson:

"Lieutenant Governor Fairfax’s letter to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office is another political stunt that shows his lack of respect for survivors of sexual violence. As a former prosecutor, the Lieutenant Governor certainly knows that potential targets of criminal investigations do not get to direct prosecutorial decisions. Like the bogus demand he made in February 2019 for the FBI to investigate Dr. Vanessa Tyson’s sexual assault allegations against him, Lieutenant Government Fairfax knows full well that his demands that the District Attorney take action will go unanswered. Despite his protestations about the unfairness of litigating such serious allegations in the press, his letter’s distorted presentation of facts is intended to do just that."

"We also note that on February 14, 2019, Lieutenant Governor’s spokesperson threatened that Mr. Fairfax would file his own criminal complaint against Dr. Tyson if she pressed criminal charges against him in Massachusetts. That threat, like others he has conveyed to sue Dr. Tyson, will not deter her from doing what’s right, but have undoubtedly been leveled by Mr. Fairfax to deter others from coming forward. His letter to the District Attorney appears intended to do the same and is a crude effort to deny agency to survivors of sexual violence. His suggestion that women are liars unless they press criminal charges against their assailants places an unfair demand on survivors and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the criminal justice system. Pursuing criminal charges is a weighty decision that the vast majority of survivors choose not to make for legitimate reasons. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax would force survivors to rely on the criminal justice system to defend their credibility, or else remain silent about the trauma they have experienced."

"The criminal justice system is not the only way government officials like Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can be held accountable for their actions. The Virginia General Assembly has its own independent responsibility to ensure that Virginia’s leaders have the character and temperament to represent the Commonwealth. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax’s letter shows yet again that he is not deserving of his position of power."

Fairfax has resisted a legislative hearing saying it would be a political circus.

So far, we haven't heard if either of the prosecutors contacted this week plans to open a criminal investigation.