Days before the two women accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault will appear on CBS This Morning, he announced he’s taken a polygraph test that he claims proves him innocent.
“From the moment that Dr. Vanessa Tyson and then Ms. Meredith Watson first made accusations that Lt. Governor Fairfax had committed sexual assault decades ago, Lt. Governor Fairfax has been steadfast in saying that the allegations are extraordinarily serious, deserve to be heard, and should be investigated and taken seriously,” Fairfax’s representatives said in a statement Sunday. “Lt. Governor Fairfax has also been steadfast from the start in saying that a serious, fair, and impartial investigation and examination of the facts would demonstrate that these allegations are false and that he engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever.”
Fairfax’s statement comes just after CBS This Morning released a clip of Gayle King’s interview with Vanessa Tyson, an associate politics professor at Scripps College. Tyson’s and Watson’s interviews will air Monday and Tuesday morning, respectively.
“In my ideal world, I’d want him to resign,” Tyson said tearfully in the clip, later adding, “The Virginia people need to know who it is that they elected. They need to know.”
After the two women’s allegations surfaced in early February, a number of prominent Democrats called on Fairfax to resign. He refused, denying both women’s accusations and decrying “political lynchings without any due process.” Republicans have said they will hold public hearings on the allegations this year, but have not yet chosen a date.
According to the statement released by the lieutenant governor’s office Sunday, Fairfax agreed to take two polygraph tests conducted by Jeremiah Hanafin—the retired FBI expert who performed a polygraph test on Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford this summer. One test concerned Tyson’s allegation that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention. The other concerned Watson’s allegation that he raped her in a “premeditated and aggressive” attack while she was a student at Duke.
The statement says that after Fairfax denied engaging in non-consensual sexual activity with both women, “the polygraph examination showed that this was a truthful answer.” The same was said regarding Fairfax’s denials of more specific parts of each woman’s allegations.
“All serious allegations deserve to be taken seriously, but not all allegations are true. The public has a right to know if serious allegations made against the Lt. Governor are true, but the public also has a right to know if they are false,” Barry Pollack, Fairfax’s attorney, was quoted as saying in the statement.
“A meaningful, professional factual investigation,” Pollack added, “would exonerate the Lt. Governor and clear his well-earned good name and reputation.”
Polygraph tests are seldom used in criminal cases, and they have been criticized by some experts—in an earlier report, one expert told The Daily Beast that false positives and negatives occur about 10 percent to 15 percent of the time.
Pollack defended the use of polygraphs in an emailed statement to The Daily Beast. “Polygraphs are not admissible in court, but are routinely used by law enforcement, the military, and other professionals in assessing whether someone is telling the truth,” he wrote. “The fact that Lt. Governor Fairfax passed polygraphs related to the allegations against him should be considered by anyone trying to assess whether he has been telling the truth when he has consistently denied these allegations.”