Vanessa Tyson: Here's what Justin Fairfax did to me in 2004

Her full statement is only a shade over two pages, so dive in. The key bit:

The part where she admits kissing him back stands out to me. If you were out to smear someone by fabricating a sexual assault whole cloth, is that a detail you’d include? That you were receptive to an advance at first? Intuitively, it seems to me you’d make the assault nonconsensual in every particular, from the jump.

So maybe Tyson’s not fabricating.

She claims that she “suppressed” memories of the incident for years afterward and had them come rushing back only when she discovered in late 2017 that Fairfax was running for lieutenant governor of Virginia. It was then that she told friends (“many friends”) what happened in 2004, she claims, whereupon she took her story to the Washington Post but was told that they couldn’t corroborate it. All of which is a point in Fairfax’s favor: He could argue that Tyson’s “suppressed” memory was actually a false memory, planted inadvertently somehow by all of the publicity he was getting in late 2017. Maybe he bears a resemblance to the man who attacked her; once she found out that he had been at the Democratic convention in 2004, her mind may have “settled” on the belief that he was her assailant.

Although that would be hard to square with what he’s told the press. He admits to having met her at the convention and says they spent some time together in his hotel room. Afterwards, she allegedly wanted him to meet her mother. All of which sounds like his explanation for her accusation is pointing towards “stalker-ish one-night-stand with a vendetta,” not a case of mistaken identity. Thirteen years is a looooong time to hold a grudge over romantic rejection, though. If this is all a matter of Tyson trying to take revenge on him, there should be some evidence somewhere between 2004 and 2017 that she was thinking about him. Is there any? Any threatening calls or emails? Any weird conversations about him with people she knew? Someone who’s angry enough at a man to smear him as a sex offender to end his career doesn’t just turn that on suddenly after 13 years have passed.

It also seems unlikely that she’d knowingly fabricate the attack and start telling friends privately about it before she went to the media with her story. That would be next-level deception, planting evidence of corroboration in her circle of friends before launching her master plan. From the Mercury News:

Tyson’s Stanford colleague Jennifer Freyd told the Bay Area News Group on Tuesday that sometime last fall, at the start of their fellowship program, Tyson told Freyd and a couple of other colleagues about the 2004 encounter at the Boston convention. Freyd doesn’t remember whether Tyson named Fairfax, but said that she spoke about it while “illustrating a concept” they were discussing about sexual violence.

Tyson didn’t mention at the time that her assailant was … the lieutenant governor of Virginia? Huh. In any case, I assume we’re destined to hear from the “many friends” she told about this in 2017. If they come forward and all claim that they found her credible, where does that leave Fairfax — dunzo, or safe on the theory that telling friends around the same time that she first told a newspaper is very far from being “contemporaneous corroboration” of the assault?

Here’s where she really turns up the heat on him, though:

Yeah, Fairfax has badly miscalculated in reacting to this. He has every right to claim his innocence and no one would fault him for being angry if he’s falsely accused. (Well, the left would if he were a Republican. They cited Kavanaugh’s anger before the Judiciary Committee as evidence of unfit temperament, right?) But dubiously trying to discredit her with video of her discussing a different assault is an aggressive response, and one of the goals of #MeToo is not to get aggressive with women alleging assault, as it risks shaming them into silence. Fairfax has made it easier for Tyson to claim that he’s victimizing her right now by “smearing” her, whether or not he victimized her 15 years ago.

She stresses at the end of her statement that she’s a “proud Democrat” and won’t be making further statements, as she does “not want to get further embroiled in this highly charged political environment.” We’ll see about that. If it proves true, though, then it would be another reason to believe her: There’s not much “limelight” for a would-be “limelight-seeker” from issuing a single written statement. The most basic question you can ask of anyone accusing a politician of something like this is “What reason might she have to lie?” Does that question have any obvious answer in this case right now?