- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Virginia House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday said rape allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax should be investigated “outside of the political arena,” signaling that they’ve taken impeachment off the table.

“The allegations they have made against Lt Gov Fairfax are criminal in nature and we are treating them with the seriousness they deserve,” the Democratic caucus said in a tweet.

“We believe that the law enforcement investigation should proceed unencumbered and outside of the political arena,” said the caucus. “As such, the House Democratic Caucus has called on Lt. Governor Fairfax to resign. We are willing to work in a bipartisan manner with members of the General Assembly on a path forward.”

Bucking resignation calls from throughout his Democratic Party since Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson came forward with separate rape allegations, Mr. Fairfax said the sex was consensual and vowed to clear his name.

Last week, House Democrats pulled back from an early move to hold impeachment hearings.

Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer for Ms. Watson, bristled at the Democrats’ latest statement.

“Apparently, the Virginia House Democratic Caucus believes that courageous victims of rape need to be heard — just not by them,” she said. “Ms. Watson is counting on the General Assembly to do the right thing and hold hearings now. These nonstop efforts to duck their role is pure cowardice. Sympathy is welcome, but action is needed.”

Ms. Tyson, a California college professor, came forward two weeks ago to allege that Mr. Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him when they met as campaign aides at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

A short time later, Ms. Watson, a single mother in Maryland, alleged that she suffered a similar attack by Mr. Fairfax when they were students at Duke University in 2000.

Last week, Ms. Tyson made plans to meet with Suffolk County District Attorney Satana Deberry, whose jurisdiction includes Boston.

Ms. Watson has been in contact with the district attorney in Durham, N.C., but it was unclear whether she will pursue a criminal investigation.

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