FBI Investigating Origins Of Justin Fairfax Sexual Assault Allegations
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate proceedings February 08, 2019 in Richmond, VA. Facing two sexual assault allegations, Fairfax has called for an investigation saying the acts were consensual.
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

FBI agents are looking into how the sexual assault allegations against then-Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-VA) surfaced in 2019, including a possible political motivation behind them.

Fairfax told The Intercept the in early June, the FBI interviewed him for three hours without an attorney. He and four anonymous sources connected to the investigation told the outlet that the FBI is trying to determine if money or some other benefit was offered to either of the two women who made the allegations against the former lieutenant governor. The FBI is also looking into inconsistencies in the women’s accounts, and what, if any, role Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney’s political network played in bringing the allegations to light.

Stoney is a political rival of Fairfax, and was apparently considering a run for governor and saw the lieutenant governor as his biggest threat, since Virginia limits governors to a four-year term.

A spokesperson for Stoney told the Intercept that the Mayor didn’t know about the allegations until they became public.

“Mayor Stoney had never heard of the sexual assault allegations against Justin Fairfax until the story broke in the news in February 2019,” spokesperson Kevin Zeithaml said. “As the mayor has said repeatedly, there is absolutely no truth whatsoever to this ridiculous accusation against him,” he added, referring to the allegations that Stoney helped orchestrate the accusations against Fairfax.

The allegations against Fairfax came after it was revealed that then-Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had worn blackface while in medical school, and national Democrats were calling for him to resign. The reason Stoney’s name has come up in the investigation is that Adria Scharf, the wife of Stoney top advisor Thad Williamson, reached out to Vanessa Tyson on Facebook after the revelations about Northam, writing “northam may be forced to resign tomorrow. Thad and I think your story should get to the local press TODAY, rather than later. Do you want me to share screen shot and your contact info (tell me what to share) with a few local respected journalists.…or alternatively give you their info? Hugs. You are pure truth love and courage.”

Tyson responded by saying Scharf could “share the screenshot with whomever,” referring to a Facebook post from Tyson claiming Fairfax had sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA, when the former lieutenant governor was a campaign staffer. Fairfax denied the accusation, pointing out that The Washington Post was made aware of the accusation around the time Fairfax was inaugurated around the same time, but the outlet investigated the claim and declined to run it.

A second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward shortly after Tyson to accuse Fairfax of raping her in college while they were Duke University undergraduates, another claim he has denied.

Fairfax sued CBS News for defamation over its interviews with the women, but the case was dismissed. In that lawsuit, Fairfax accused political rivals of pushing the allegations.

Now the FBI appears to be investigating Fairfax’s accusations in his lawsuit.

The FBI investigation into the origins of the allegations against Fairfax is interesting considering the FBI didn’t conduct a similar investigation into the dubious allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, even though there was similarly a political motive behind those accusations.

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