The woman accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault is not planning on pursuing charges, a source close to her legal team told Fox News.
Dr. Vanessa C. Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California, released a statement earlier this week outlining in graphic detail the alleged encounter, which she says happened in July 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex. Fairfax, a Democrat, has adamantly denied the allegations.
The statute of limitations for such an alleged crime in Massachusetts would expire later this year. But a source close to Tyson’s legal team told Fox News that the professor is not pursuing charges against Fairfax, and indicated that she “wanted to make her statement about what happened and get back to her life.”
It is unclear where the case might go from here, absent Tyson’s involvement, as some Democrats say the accusation should be taken seriously — and as all three of Virginia’s top state officials cling to power amid three separate controversies.
2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called earlier this week for a full investigation into the allegations, calling them “credible.”
“I think the letter written by the woman reads as a credible account, and I think there should be an investigation to get to the bottom of it and determine the facts,” Harris said.
And freshman Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., tweeted: “I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson.”
Members of the Virginia congressional delegation put out a statement saying Tyson’s allegations should be taken “very seriously.”
“We are deeply disturbed by the account detailing the alleged actions of Lieutenant Governor Fairfax,” the lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, said. “We believe these allegations need to be taken very seriously, and we respect the right of women to come forward and be heard.”
The statute of limitations for an alleged rape is 15 years in Massachusetts and has not expired. Tyson says the alleged incident occurred on July 28, 2004 in Boston, meaning law enforcement officials theoretically would have until this summer to bring charges if they wanted to pursue them.
Local officials, though, did not comment on Tyson’s allegations. A spokesman for the Boston Police Department told Fox News they could not comment on the status or existence of any investigation, noting that such reports would be classified. A spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said the same, while encouraging victims of sexual assault to come forward.
“Suffolk County prosecutors are committed to providing a safe, confidential and survivor-centered environment for any person wishing to disclose a sexual assault, regardless of the circumstances,” the spokesman told Fox News on Friday.
Tyson hired the law firm Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP prior to releasing her statement, retaining Debra Katz to represent her. Katz was one of the attorneys who represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while in high school.
The statement detailed the alleged encounter, saying that “what began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault.”
“Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch,” she recalled. “Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth.”
“I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual.”
She added: “To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave him any form of consent. Quite the opposite.”
Fairfax vehemently denied the allegations, calling them “surprising and hurtful.” He reiterated that he had a “consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation” while he was an unmarried law student.
“These are unprecedented and difficult times. We have the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the challenge and come together,” Fairfax said this week. “I look forward to continuing my work to unify the Commonwealth.”
Tyson’s allegations against Fairfax come amid a political firestorm in Virginia that has intensified by the day. Last weekend, photos of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam surfaced from his medical school yearbook, showing someone in blackface next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume. Democrats and Republicans, alike, have called for Northam’s resignation, but the governor, at this point, has refused and now claims he was not in that photo.
Should Northam resign, Fairfax would be next in line to succeed him—but the sexual assault allegations have put his political future in doubt.
Also this week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the next in the line of succession, posted a statement admitting he, too, donned blackface during a college party in 1980, saying he wore brown makeup and a wig to look like a black rapper during a party at the University of Virginia.
“This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” Herring said in a statement.