Image: Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax enters the Senate chamber at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. ((Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images))

A Republican lawmaker has announced his decision to invite the two women who have accused Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault to share their stories before the Grand Assembly Panel.

Delegate Rob Bell announced his invitation from the floor of the House of Delegates on Friday. The hearing will take place in the House Courts of Justice Committee, which is chaired by Bell.

Fairfax, the second Black American to be elected Lt. Governor, has denied both sets of allegations. Vanessa Tyson allowed herself to be named by media outlets after initially reporting her assault at the hands of Fairfax during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, where he faces a possible criminal investigation. Tyson says Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room.

Meredith Watson, a mother and former Duke University student, claims she told Fairfax and other friends about an assault at the hands of Duke and NBA player Corey Maggette, and that Fairfax assaulted her after learning of her assault.


Fairfax’s alleged abusive behavior came to light after the blackface scandal involving Governor Ralph Northam. Fairfax, who seemed to have a clear path to the governorship, claims both encounters were consensual.

Watson is “gratified” that a hearing has been announced, according to her attorney Nancy Erika Smith.


Bell called the allegations “obviously extraordinary and extremely serious.” He will also invite Fairfax to testify.

A spokesperson for Fairfax reduced Bell’s remarks to “political theater.”

“The Lt. Governor has consistently denied the unsubstantiated allegations against him and he has consistently requested a full, fair, independent, impartial,” spokesperson Lauren Burke said in a statement, “and non-political investigation by law enforcement. Obviously, this House Republican-led effort is partisan.”