RICHMOND — A lawyer for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) has told a prosecutor that a witness was present and can corroborate that Fairfax’s sexual encounter with Meredith Watson at Duke University in 2000 was consensual.
Fairfax lawyer Barry J. Pollack has written to a prosecutor in Durham, N.C., to say that the witness — whom he did not identify — backs up Fairfax’s claim that Watson’s charge against him is “demonstrably false.”
Watson has said Fairfax raped her when they were undergraduates at Duke. She is one of two women to come forward with accusations of sexual assault against Fairfax. He denies both.
The other woman, Vanessa Tyson, says he assaulted her in 2004 while in Boston for the Democratic National Convention.
Fairfax has said both encounters were consensual and offered to work with law enforcement officials in investigations.
Both women have offered to speak before the Virginia General Assembly, where Republicans have called for hearings but Democrats have resisted, saying they think the matter should be left to law enforcement.
A spokesman for Watson’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a letter dated July 9, Pollack wrote to Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry that the witness was a fraternity brother of Fairfax. He wrote that Fairfax was visiting the witness at the fraternity house on the Duke campus in 2000, when Watson arrived.
“The eyewitness observed Ms. Watson initiate a sexual encounter with Mr. Fairfax in the eyewitness’ room,” Pollack wrote. He said the witness “remained with Ms. Watson” after the sexual encounter and Fairfax had left.
“The eyewitness recalls the events clearly and has shared his recollections with a number of people,” the letter says, adding that the person “can say definitively that Ms. Watson was not raped or sexually assaulted by Mr. Fairfax in any way.”
Pollack wrote that none of the group had been using drugs or alcohol and that Watson “initiated sexual contact with Mr. Fairfax and unambiguously manifested her consent to the sexual contact that occurred.”
Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke said the eyewitness has been in contact with the lieutenant governor since Watson made her allegation. He has not been willing to talk reporters, and Burke declined to identify him.
She said she could not clarify if that person merely witnessed the sexual encounter or was a participant.
A spokesperson for the Durham prosecutor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fairfax had been widely viewed as a possible future governor until the accusations came to light in February and cast his future in doubt. Fairfax recently stepped down from his job at a private law firm, saying he wanted to focus more fully on his role as lieutenant governor.
The firm, Morrison & Foerster, conducted an internal investigation that it said found no indications of wrongdoing on Fairfax’s part since he joined the firm last year.