Justin Fairfax
Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia state politics are in a state of upheaval, with Governor Ralph Northam and State Attorney General Mark Herring both admitting to past uses of blackface and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax accused of sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

For the past four years, former Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said his accusers avoided investigations into their sordid claims – accusations that forced him, his wife and their children to live with the indignity of him being labeled a sex offender. 

With an active FBI investigation into Old Dominion political figures that has reportedly uncovered nefarious payouts by Fairfax’s rivals to the women, the one-time and would-be governor believes his name has finally been cleared. 

“There are some real truth-tellers who cut through the political sensationalism and what is the truth,” Fairfax said. “I would be the only African-American governor in the United States today had it not been for what now appears to be false allegations.”

“This resulted in large part because they wanted to smear me. We have a 400-year history of Black males being falsely accused. Once people find out that it’s not true, it’s extremely difficult to get the politicians and the journalists to admit they were wrong,” he said. 

In 2019, during the Virginia gubernatorial campaign, two women alleged that Fairfax sexually assaulted them. The allegations suspiciously arrived when racist photos of then-Gov. Ralph Northam, seeking reelection in the race against Fairfax, surfaced.

Old photos showed Northam in blackface or wearing Ku Klux Klan garb.

“Within three minutes, Terry McAuliffe called for me to resign as lieutenant governor,” Fairfax noted. “Talk about due process. There was a retroactive fabrication and so many people connected to this. 

The scandals involving Northam and Fairfax paved the way for McAuliffe to run for governor who lost to Glenn Youngkin in the 2021 race.

“Terry ran again and so many involved need to be held accountable. This smear campaign has been going on for nearly four years,” Fairfax said. “It’s really cruel what’s been done.”

Fairfax has maintained his innocence and repeatedly called for a criminal investigation.

He filed a defamation lawsuit against CBS News for the network’s interviews with his accusers, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Wilson.

Though a judge ultimately threw out the suit, Fairfax noted numerous inconsistencies. For example, he has alleged that McAuliffe and Richmond, Virginia Mayor Levar Stoney were chiefly responsible for orchestrating his demise.

Reportedly, investigators are homing in on Stoney and McAuliffe, both rivals of Fairfax.

“Had Fairfax ascended to governor in 2019, replacing Northam, he would have been the prohibitive favorite for the nomination in 2021, cutting out McAuliffe and Stoney,” political writers for The Intercept determined.

“One of the things liars tend to do is change or modify their stories and Justin never changed,” said Journalist Lauren Burke who worked on Fairfax’s campaign. “The other thing you don’t see is someone in trouble asking for police involvement. That never happens.” 

“Anyone sitting with the FBI with no attorney present stands out. It also stands out that the people making the allegations disappear when prosecutors get involved. Then the FBI gets involved and one of the attorneys for the accuser gets angry. If your client is the victim of a crime, you should want law enforcement involved,” Burke said. 

Now Burke, who championed and stood by Fairfax from the beginning, finally has company. Sophia Nelson, a journalist and former House Republican Congressional Committee counsel, wrote an editorial this month apologizing to Fairfax.

Nelson acknowledged Fairfax as a “young, well-educated Black man with a lovely wife and beautiful children, all by his late 30s.”

“A former federal prosecutor with a spotless personal and ethical record and a great future ahead. Until the bottom fell out,” Nelson wrote. “He became a target for the #MeToo movement. But evidence recently emerged that Fairfax might have been the victim of a coordinated smear campaign.”

“Thankfully, I was among the journalists who reviewed the new information and I was stunned by what I learned. As a Black woman who was a victim of sexual assault as a young girl, I had immediate empathy for the women who accused Fairfax. After all, we should believe women when they share their stories. Right? Of course, but looking back now at how hard I was on Fairfax, I think I was wrong. I think we all were.”

Fairfax said he’s grateful to Nelson, Roland Martin and the Black Press for not rushing to judgment.

“I’m very grateful to Sophia and I thanked her for her courage, integrity and willingness to tell the truth, which has been missing for three and a half years,” Fairfax said. “This will come down in history as one of the greatest scandals in politics in the history of Virginia and our nation.”

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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