RICHMOND — The district attorney in Boston has offered to investigate Vanessa Tyson’s rape allegation against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, raising the stakes in the crisis engulfing the state’s top Democratic leaders.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins sent a letter to Ms. Tyson saying she is ready to launch an investigation into her allegation that Mr. Fairfax raped her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
“We wouldn’t normally discuss a matter like this publicly, but the decision was made to self-identify and I’d be remiss if I didn’t make my office and its resources available to her — and to other survivors who might be following the case and wrestling with whether to come forward to law enforcement,” Ms. Rollins said in a statement.
Ms. Rollins said her office would give the allegation the serious attention that it deserves, whether providing survivor counseling or pursuing criminal charges.
“When it comes to sexual assault, every survivor’s reaction is different. That includes their decisions about disclosing to law enforcement. What I want all survivors to know is that we’re ready, willing, and able to help,” she said.
Massachusetts’ 15-year statute of limitations for the crime expires in July, leaving several more months for Ms. Tyson to ask authorities to investigate her claim that Mr. Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him when they met as campaign aides at the convention.
Ms. Rollins sent the letter last week.
Ms. Tyson’s lawyer would not comment on whether she’s been in contact with the district attorney, and Ms. Rollins’s office would not say if an investigation was underway.
Mr. Fairfax, 39, who was a rising star in the Democratic Party, also has been accused by Meredith Watson of a similar attack when they were students at Duke University.
Bucking widespread calls for his resignation from his own Democratic Party, Mr. Fairfax has insisted the sex with both women was consensual and that he is the victim of a political “smear.”
He didn’t answer reporters’ questions Wednesday as he arrived at the Senate chamber, where he serves as the presiding officer.
The jeopardy facing Mr. Fairfax is part of a political bonfire that consumed the state’s Democratic leaders in the past two weeks. Gov. Ralph Northam and state Attorney General Mark Herring are accused of racism after admitting to wearing blackface in the 1980s.
Mr. Northam’s troubles began with the emergence of his medical school yearbook where his profile page included a photo of a man in blackface standing with someone in Ku Klux Klan robes.
He also is refusing widespread calls for his resignation.
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