Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has roundly defended himself as he faces accusations of sexual assault which have prompted calls for his resignation.
Though Fairfax has consistently insisted on his innocence, he still stunned senators during a surprise speech on Sunday in which he drew comparisons between himself and lynching victims during the Jim Crow era, according to NBC Washington.
Fairfax referenced legislation that was recently passed by the General Assembly expressing “profound regret” for the dozens of lynchings that occurred in the state between 1877 and 1950 before he added, “And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices. And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing.”
“If we go backward in a rush to judgment, if we eliminate due process which was brought to the states by the 14th Amendment…and we allow for political lynchings without any due process, any facts, any evidence being heard, then I think we do a disservice to this very body in which we all serve,” he added.
Throughout his speech, Fairfax reiterated that he is “standing firm in the truth,” also repeating his calls for an investigation.
“I turned 40 last Sunday and I have lived 40 years accusation-free and there’s a reason for that, and none of this is a coincidence,” Fairfax said. “This is much bigger than me, I assure you.”
Fairfax has been accused by two women of sexually assaulting him.
Vanessa Tyson first came forward with allegations, accusing the Lt. Gov. of forcing her to perform oral sex in his hotel room while attending the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Mass in 2004.
Another accuser, Meredith Watson, stepped forward shortly after, accusing Fairfax of raping her almost 20 years ago when they were students at Duke University.
As stated before, Fairfax has denied all allegations.
According to NBC Wawshington, House Republicans plan to hold a public hearing where Fairfax, Tyson and Watson can testify; however, Fairfax has suggested that he has no intention of participating in what he and some other Democrats are labeling a political ploy.
Republican House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert also latched on to Fairfax’s comments on the Senate floor, calling him out on his “disgusting” rhetoric.
“That is the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric he could have invoked,” Gilbert said. “It’s entirely appropriate for him to talk about due process and we would intend to offer him every ounce of it, and he’s welcome to take advantage of that anytime he would like.”
However, some Democrats are inclined to agree with Fairfax, with some, like Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Del. Lamont Bagby acknowledging that some of his constituents have express concerns that Fairfax is being treated unfairly due to his race, NBC Washington notes.