The second woman to come forward to accuse Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault also alleged she was raped by a Duke basketball player, and on Friday night a university spokesperson told USA TODAY Sports that school officials were “looking into” the allegation.
Meredith Watson, in a statement released earlier 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.
“She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out. She turned and asked, ‘Why did you do it?’ Mr. Fairfax answered: “I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.”
A person with knowledge of the alleged sexual assault by the Duke basketball player told USA TODAY Sports the incident occurred in 1999. That person was granted anonymity because details of the incident have not been made public.
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“We have just become aware of these allegations and are looking into them,” Duke University spokesperson Keith Lawrence told USA TODAY Sports in an email.
Fairfax has denied the allegations made by Watson along with those made by Vanessa Tyson, who earlier in the week alleged she was forced to perform oral sex on Fairfax in a Boston hotel room in 2004.
Several Virginia Democratic Party leaders – including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, five Democratic U.S. representatives from Virginia and Sen. Tim Kaine – have asked Fairfax to resign. Patrick Hope, a Democrat and Virginia state delegate, wrote on Twitter Friday than she would introduce articles of impeachment if Fairfax does not step down by Monday.
The allegations against Fairfax are part of a tumultuous past several days in the state’s capital of Richmond as both Gov. Ralph Northam and attorney general Mark Herring admitted they wore blackface during the 1980s.