Justin Fairfax
Justin Fairfax, Lt. Governor of Virginia, and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) present the Educational Leadership Award during the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 31st Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2018. Getty Images/Paul Morigi

Justin Fairfax, currently the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, denied accusations of sexual assault in a recent statement. Fairfax, 39, could potentially become the second African-American governor of the state if Gov. Ralph Northam resigns following accusations of racism against him.

“Tonight an online publication released a false and unsubstantiated allegation against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax,” a statement released by Fairfax’s office read. “Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect. He had never assaulted anyone ever – in any way, shape, or form.”

The statement claimed the tipster in question had initially approached the Washington Post and another unnamed reputable publication over a year ago with the story. Both newspapers refused to publish a story about it after failing to corroborate the source’s account in the face of Fairfax’s vehement denial of the allegations.

“After being presented with facts consistent with the Lt. Governor's denial of the allegation, the absence of any evidence corroborating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story,” the statement said.

The statement concluded the accusation was a part of “dark politics that the Lt. Governor has dedicated himself to helping Virginia and the nation rise above” and that Fairfax was prepared to take legal action against anyone who helped spread the defamatory rumors about his character.

The accusations came to light when a conservative site called Big League Politics published an article titled “Stanford Fellow Hints At Possible Justin Fairfax Sex Assault” on Sunday. The entire article was based on a private message by a woman named Vanessa Tyson, who is a fellow at Stanford University's Scripps College. The message did not explicitly mention Fairfax by name but instead hinted at a prominent Democratic figure in politics who won the election for a state office in November 2017.

“Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer,” she wrote in the message. “You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day you find out he is the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and he wins that election in November 2017. Then by some strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll get a very big promotion.”

A screenshot of the “heartbreaking” Twitter message was shared by Tyson’s friend named Adria Scharf, and in turn handed over to the Big League Politics by an anonymous tipster. Since Fairfax matched the profile of the individual that Tyson referred to in her message, the publication pointed the blame at the lieutenant governor.

Media’s interest in Fairfax grew after a photo from Northam’s medical school yearbook surfaced recently. The picture showed a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. In two different press conferences since then, the Virginia governor first apologized for “a costume that is clearly racist and offensive” and subsequently denying he ever wore “that costume or attend that party” where the picture was taken.

Regardless, calls for his resignation have grown louder, even from among prominent Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder also condemned Northam’s actions and asked him to step down.