Virginia House Democrats back off plan to impeach Justin Fairfax

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, greets, Bishop Felton Hawkins, Full Gospel Kingdom Church, Newport News, right, as well as State Sen. Lionel Spruill, Sr., D-Chesapeake, front, prior to the start of the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia’s lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax has been in a media firestorm ever since two women accused him of sexual assault. There were calls to impeach him by Virginia House Democrats, but now those calls have reportedly ended.

According to a CBS local affiliate in Virginia, Virginia House Democrats said in a statement today, “Ms. Watson & Dr. Tyson are courageous in coming forward to tell their stories. We respect all survivors and believe they should be fully heard. The allegations they have made against Lt. Gov. Fairfax are criminal in nature and we are treating them with the seriousness they deserve.”

The statement concluded with, “We believe that the law enforcement investigation should proceed unencumbered and outside of the political arena.”

Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) was the first to call for Fairfax’s impeachment on Feb. 8. But two days later he said, “There has been an enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback which has led to additional conversations that need to take place before anything is filed. We owe it to all parties involved — especially the victims — to make sure that we have thought through every option the General Assembly has. That’s what these conversations are for — so we can build more consensus on a path forward.”

CBS also reports, “After a draft of the articles circulated among lawmakers, members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said the move was too extreme, without providing Fairfax enough time to defend himself.”

Last week, Meredith Watson publicly accused Fairfax of raping her when they were in college together nearly two decades ago. She alleged the incident took play while they were students at Duke University in 2000, according to a report from the Washington Post. Watson’s claim came less than a week after Vanessa Tyson said Fairfax forced her to give him oral sex during the summer of 2004.

Watson also claimed former NBA player and Fox Sports analyst Corey Maggette, who played at Duke for one year from 1998 to 1999, raped her, too.

Watson’s lawyer told the Post that her client only wants Fairfax to resign. That echoed the sentiments of Tyson, who said she only went public after she saw Fairfax was on the verge of being elevated to governor when it was discovered that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has racist images on his medical school yearbook page.

Fairfax has denied both Tyson’s and Watson’s claims. Maggette has also denied Watson’s accusations.