The Justin Fairfax Sexual Assault Case May Get a Boston Investigation

Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins is offering to take on the case involving the Virginia lieutenant governor.

Rachael Rollins file photo via  AP/Steven Senne

As you may have heard, Virginia is a complete mess right now. Two (yes two!) of the state’s leaders admit to having worn blackface in their past, spurring calls for their ouster. At the same time, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax stands accused of sexual assaulting a woman in 2004. The trio of scandals have threatened to more or less upend the 2018 election in that state, and has attracted the nation’s attention. Now, Boston may be pulled into the political maelstrom.

Rachael Rollins, the newly elected Suffolk District Attorney, has offered to oversee a criminal investigation into the Fairfax assault case, which stems from an alleged incident at the Democratic National Convention held in Boston 15 years ago. As the Boston Globe was first to report, Rollins has sent a letter to lawyers for Vanessa Tyson, who accuses Fairfax of assaulting her in Boston, saying she is ready to launch a criminal probe here if Tyson decides to make a formal complaint. The Globe reports the statute of limitations on the case may expire in six months.

Tyson says she met with and kissed Fairfax consensually in a hotel room when she was a Harvard grad student and he was an aide to John Edwards, but that Fairfax then forced her to perform oral sex. He has denied the allegations, describing the encounter as entirely consensual, and has publicly called for the FBI to investigate.

The case is one of two involving Fairfax. A second woman, Meredith Watson, accuses him of assaulting her in 2000 at Duke University.

Rollins has been in the national spotlight before. While running for the DA role as a reformer, she became a subject of national punditry last year when she advocated against prosecuting people accused of certain certain crimes, including shoplifting. Rollins appeared on Tucker Carlson’s combative Fox News TV show to defend her proposals.