Vanessa Tyson, a politics professor at Scripps University who publicly accused Virginia’s lieutenant governor of sexual assault two months ago, has given her first televised interview. Through tears, she recounted the alleged attack in detail, saying, “It was like I had walked into a trap.”
On CBS This Morning, Tyson told Gayle King that she met Justin Fairfax during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where she found him to be “very friendly” and “harmless”; therefore, she didn’t hesitate to go with him to his hotel room when he said he needed to “pick up paperwork.” Even when he allegedly started to kiss her in his room, she told King she was surprised but not uncomfortable — until they got to his bed, and Tyson “couldn’t feel [her] neck.”
“I thought there was something wrong with my neck … And he’s pushing down and pushing down,” she said through tears. “I honestly didn’t know what was going on. And then the next thing I know, like, my head is, like, literally in his crotch … And I’m choking and gagging. And, you know, I couldn’t say anything ‘cause I’m choking and gagging.”
Tyson also believes that Fairfax took advantage of her past as a survivor of incest, about which she recalls telling him 2004. At the time of the alleged assault, she was counseling other survivors at a rape crisis center, which was then “the biggest part of [her] life.”
In early February, Tyson came forward after a right-wing website reported a private Facebook post she wrote, claiming that Fairfax had sexually assaulted her; a day later, she made her name public and claimed that he had “forced [her] to perform oral sex on him,” after which she “suffered from both deep humiliation and shame.” In the time since, a second woman, Meredith Watson, has accused Fairfax of raping her in a “premeditated and aggressive” fashion.
Fairfax has vehemently denied both allegations, and recently submitted to two polygraph tests, which his team says prove his innocence. However, Tyson and Watson still want a public hearing to describe under oath their respective alleged assaults, as Tyson the Virginia people “have a right to know” their stories. While Tyson told King that the two women have never met in response to claims that they were part of an orchestrated attempt to bring down Fairfax amid numerous scandals that simultaneously engulfed the state’s top politicians, it “meant the world” to Tyson when Watson came forward.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is to come forward, especially against someone powerful,” Tyson told King. “When she came forward, she didn’t want me to feel alone.”