Past fundraiser alleges rape by Virginia Lt. Gov.


Two women have accused Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assaullt. One worked at AACC.

Sarah Noble, Daily Editor

One of the two women who has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault worked at AACC in the mid-2000s.

School fundraiser Meredith Watson, a Baltimore resident, worked for the AACC Foundation for about two years starting in 2006.

Watson on Feb. 8 said Fairfax raped her when they were students at Duke University in 2000.

Fairfax’s attack was “premeditated and aggressive,” Watson’s attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, said in a statement. She said the two were friends but never had a romantic relationship.

Fairfax has admitted he had sex with Watson, but said it was consensual. He also said he had a consensual sexual encounter with another woman, Scripps College professor Vanessa Tyson, who has accused him of forcing her to engage in oral sex in 2004.

In a statement issued by Smith, Watson called for Fairfax to resign. Fairfax has said he will not.

The allegations of assault against Fairfax are a part of a series of scandals at the highest levels of Virginia’s government.

On Feb. 1, Big League Politics published a photo from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook showing a white student wearing blackface and a classmate dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam has said he is not in that photograph but admitted he wore blackface when he dressed as Michael Jackson for a dance contest.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, the third-highest ranking official in the state, said he wore blackface at a college party in 1980.

In a Washington Post opinion piece on Feb. 18, Watson wrote that she came forward to support Tyson and “to remove that man from a position of national prominence.”

Women on campus said they believe Watson.

Second-year nursing student Sarah Davis said no matter how long ago the alleged event happened, “an assault is an assault.”

“We shouldn’t treat it as if it never happened,” she said. “Many victims stay quiet out of fear and sometimes embarrassment. It takes courage to talk about it.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 25 percent of women experience sexual assault while they are in college. More than 90 percent of those victims do not report the assault.

First-year undecided student Ruth Stimely said AACC should show support for Watson, but said, “Schools are too concerned with their image.”

Stimely said she supports a public trial for Fairfax.

“In my eyes, it’s really brave to want to tell your story about something that can be seen as humiliating, or even scary, in front of so many people,” she said. “People need to hear about things like this.”