RICHMOND, Va. — In a statement issued minutes before 3 a.m. Monday, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax denied an unverified allegation of sexual assault – a claim posted on the same website that first published an image of Gov. Ralph Northam’s now infamous medical school yearbook.
The allegation involves an unsubstantiated claim of sexual assault against Fairfax during the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
WUSA9 and the Washington Post have both known about unverified claims for months, with reporters unable to corroborate any allegations.
“Lt. Governor Fairfax has an outstanding and well-earned reputation for treating people with dignity and respect,” read the statement released on Twitter.
“He has never assaulted anyone – ever – in any way, shape or form.”
The post on the conservative website Big League Politics went live just as the Super Bowl ended late Sunday. Allies of the likely heir apparent to embattled Gov. Northam called the development a clear smear tactic, as Fairfax's profile rises.
"This is part of the sad and dark politics that the Lt. Governor has dedicated himself to helping Virginia and the nation rise above," the overnight statement read.
"The Lt. Governor will take appropriate legal action against those attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation."
WUSA9 is refraining from publishing further details of the claim, as key elements have not been able to be verified. Broad outlines of the claim are only being published after Fairfax's office released an official statement now in public view.
The development unfolded hours before Northam is scheduled to hold a meeting with top staff members in Richmond, when a possible resignation will be discussed.
Five officials with direct knowledge of the deliberations said state lawmakers will hold off on removing Northam through untested mechanisms in Virginia's constitution, in order to avoid escalating tensions.