With impeachment proceedings put on hold, embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Monday said he still wanted an investigation to clear his name of rape allegations.
“We have called for an independent investigation, and I am still very confident in the truth,” Mr. Fairfax said as he entered the Senate chamber, where he serves as the presiding officer.
Inside, he faced fellow Democrats who have called for his resignation after two women accused him of rape.
He maintains that the sex with the women was consensual and he is the victim of a political “smear.”
The crisis for Mr. Fairfax, a 39-year-old rising star in the party, is part of a political bonfire consuming Virginia’s Democratic leaders. Gov. Ralph Northam and state Attorney General Mark Herring stand accused of racism for wearing blackface in the 1980s, and the governor is defying his party’s calls for him to step down.
Del. Patrick Hope, a Democrat representing Arlington, planned to file articles of impeachment but abruptly hit the breaks early Monday.
He, too, said he still wanted an investigation, saying the General Assembly needs to hear from the two women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson.
The path forward, however, is uncertain.
Mr. Fairfax, the party’s top black elected official in Virginia, has vehemently denies he ever raped anyone and has vowed to clear his name.
He said an FBI investigation into the women’s allegations would be appropriate.
Despite stopping short of impeachment, Virginia Democrats insisted they still want Mr. Fairfax to go.
Asked about the stalled impeachment, Virginia House and Senate Democrats reiterated their call for Mr. Fairfax to resign, saying he can no longer fulfill his duties due to the “serious nature of these allegations.”
Lawyers for Ms. Tyson and Ms. Watson did not immediately respond to the delayed impeachment process.
The two women have said they are ready to testify before the General Assembly to refute Mr. Fairfax’s denials and help force him out of office.
Ms. Tyson alleged Mr. Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him when they met as campaign aides at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Ms. Watson said she suffered a similar attack by Mr. Fairfax in 2000 when they were students at Duke University.
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