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Maryland native Meredith Watson has accused Democratic lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. Watson claims that the assault took place in 2000, when both she and Fairfax were students at Duke University. Her accusation followed a similar claim against Fairfax from another woman.
Watson has also levied sexual assault allegations against sports commentator and former Los Angeles Clipper Corey Magette. The Times’ story cites testimony from a friend of Watson’s and messages that Watson sent via Facebook detailing the assault. Both men have denied the accusations.
Watson’s accusation comes amidst scandal across the Virginia state government. It follows widespread backlash to the discovery of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) wearing blackface in a photograph taken for his 1984 medical school yearbook. After Northam’s photo surfaced, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) revealed that he also wore blackface at an event in 1980. These scandals, combined with the accusations levied against Fairfax, have led current and former Virginian politicians to call for some or all of these men to resign.
Watson’s decision to come forward with her accusations falls in line with the long-running #MeToo movement. Some of the men about whom the movement has unveiled patterns of sexual assault, such as Harvey Weinstein, have had their careers fully ended by the accusations. Others, such as comedian Louis C.K., have staged public comebacks. It remains to be seen which camp Magette and Fairfax will join, and it’s possible more stories about each will emerge in the coming days and weeks.