Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax Says His Own Governor Could Be Behind Sexual Assault Allegations Against Him

The drama in Virginia ratcheted up another notch Monday when Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax told a reporter that Governor Ralph Northam could be behind the sexual assault allegations against Fairfax that surfaced over the weekend.

Northam faces pressure to resign from both Republicans and Democrats after his medical school yearbook page showed a photo of a man in a KKK hood and robe, and of a man in blackface. Northam at first admitted he was the man in the racist photos, but this past weekend held a press conference to say he didn't believe he was not either of the people in the photo.

Fairfax, who is black and would assume the governorship if Northam were to step down, denied the sexual assault allegation from 2004, and said Northam's team could be behind the "smear" campaign to prevent the lieutenant governor from ascending to the top elected position in Virginia's state government.

Collective PAC, a group that works to "fix the challenge of African-American underrepresentation in elected seats of power," according to its website, issued a statement Monday that said it "learned through various sources that Governor Northam's team and advisers have now decided to start attacking Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax by spreading lies to reporters and state leaders in an attempt to quell support for the Lt. Governor as Governor Northam's impending successor should he resign."

Later on Monday, when a reporter asked Fairfax about the statement from the political action committee, he said he agreed that Northam could be behind the allegations.

"Collective PAC has made its statement—I don't know precisely where this is coming from, we've heard different things," Fairfax said. "But here's the thing: Does anybody think it's any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated, that that's when this uncorroborated smear comes out—does anybody believe that's a coincidence? I don't think anybody believes that's a coincidence."

The Washington Post learned of the allegations a year ago, before Fairfax's inauguration, but reported on Monday that it didn't have enough corroboration for a story.

"This is not the first time this was brought up. It was a year ago this was brought up. And The Post investigated three months, dropped the story, did not do it, and they did not do it because it was uncorroborated, and it was uncorroborated because it was not true."

"Fairfax and the woman told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present," the newspaper said. "The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version."

The alleged assault between Fairfax and the woman occurred in Boston during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Fairfax was 25 years old at the time.

Leaders from both sides have called for the Democrat governor to resign, but Northam has resisted so far. He initially acknowledged and later apologized for the blackface-KKK photo that surfaced Friday.

"Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive," Northam said of the photo first published by The Virginian-Pilot. "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision cased then and now."

On Friday evening, Northam released a one-minute video of his apology, stating what he did was "wrong."

My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.

— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 2, 2019

But over the weekend, the governor held a press conference and said he wasn't either of the men in the racist photo.

Fairfax is the descendant of slaves, and was the only state legislator to step away from the dais during a recent tribute to General Robert E. Lee at the statehouse.