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Justin Fairfax placed on leave at law firm sexual-assault investigation



Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is on leave from the north Virginia law firm where he works, while the firm investigates allegations of sexual assault.

The lieutenant governor position is only part time; Fairfax is employed at Morrison & Foerster, an international law firm that represents financial institutions, startups, and tech companies.

“We take the allegations against Justin very seriously,” the firm’s chairman Larren Nashelsky told the National Law Journal on Friday. “As a firm, we believe that it is important to seriously listen to any allegation of sexual assault or harassment, and to treat all persons making such allegations with respect and sensitivity.”

The firm retained outside counsel to look into the allegations, and Fairfax is cooperating with the investigation, according to Nashelsky’s statement.

Read more: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is resisting pressure to resign, and has reportedly been given homework by his advisers to read ‘Roots’ and ‘The Case for Reparations’

Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault by two women.

Vanessa Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in and fellow at Stanford University was the first to come forward after the conservative publication Big League Politics published her account.

On Wednesday, February 6, Tyson released a statement through her lawyers detailing the alleged assault, which she said occurred in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention.

“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” Tyson says in her statement.

Later that week, a woman named Meredith Watson came forward alleging that Fairfax assaulted her in 2000 when they attended Duke University.

Fairfax has forcefully denied both allegations, but he has faced calls from Democratic lawmakers to resign over the allegations.

“I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation,” Fairfax said in a statement, which was send to INSIDER on Friday. “It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever.”

“I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations,” the statement continued. “Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.”

Read more: 2020 Democrat candidates join lawmakers calling for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign as a 2nd woman accuses him of sexual assault

Fairfax is one of three Virginia lawmakers embroiled in scandal.

The allegations against Fairfax emerged as lawmakers called for the resignation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam over a photo on Northam’s medical school yearbook page that shows a man wearing blackface and one dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes.

Northam, after initially saying he was in the photo and apologizing, later denied being in the photo. At a press conference on Saturday, February 2, he admitted to wearing blackface while dressing up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He has rejected calls for his resignation.

Virginia’s attorney general also came forward saying he wore blackface in college in 1980.

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