Virginia Democrats Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (left) and Gov. Ralph Northam (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Multiple outlets, including The Washington Post, refused to report claims that were leaked Sunday
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) is set to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D) if the sitting governor steps down amid widespread calls for his resignation.
Now, Fairfax himself is facing a sexual assault allegation, which he denied on Twitter around 3 a.m. ET on Monday. Multiple news outlets admit knowing of the claim for months, and only acknowledged it after a report surfaced Sunday night.
What are the details?
Calls for Northam to resign began after the governor defended proposed legislation allowing abortion up until the moment of birth last Wednesday. Two days later, Big League Politics released leaked photos from the governor's medical school yearbook with one showing side-by-side figures in Ku Klux Klan garb and blackface. Calls for Northam to step down then came from within his own party, urging him to let Fairfax take over leading the state.
Late Sunday evening, Big League Politics broke another story about an apparent sexual assault allegation against Fairfax dating back to 2004, which the lieutenant governor's office acknowledged and denied within hours via Twitter.
The statement called the allegation against Fairfax false, and attempted to discredit the accuser by pointing out that The Washington Post was aware of the allegation for more than a year, but purposely did not report on the story because of "the absence of any evidence corroborating" it. The statement also says The Post found "significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation."
WVEC-TV reported Monday: "The Washington Post, as well as our sister station [WUSA-TV] in Washington, D.C., have known about the claim for months, but have not been able to corroborate the allegations." WUSA added in its reporting that in addition to itself and The Washington Post, "news outlets across Virginia" sat on the story.
WUSA went on to say that it "is refraining from publishing further details of the claim, as key elements have not been able to be verified."
So, what are the allegations against Fairfax?
A tipster reportedly forwarded a private message from accuser Vanessa Tyson to Big League Politics, which reads:
"Imagine you were sexually assaulted during the DNC Convention in Boston in 2004 by a campaign staffer. You spend the next 13 years trying to forget it ever happened. Until one day you find out he's the Democratic candidate for statewide office in a state some 3000 miles away, and he wins that election in November 2017. Then by strange, horrible luck, it seems increasingly likely that he'll get a VERY BIG promotion."
While Fairfax is not named in the post, Big League Politics asserts that "everything in Tyson's post points toward Fairfax, and now in a statement, that is being publicly admitted."
Tyson is fellow at Stanford University and a professor at Scripps College in Claremont, California.
Online critics quickly questioned The Washington Post's extensive reporting of uncorroborated accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, while refusing to expose the claims against Fairfax.
Following the statement from Fairfax's office, The Washington Post confirmed that it investigated the claims but "could not find anyone who could corroborate either version." The publication added that it "did not find 'significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations' as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said."
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