NYT: Vanessa Tyson told five people since 2017 that she was assaulted at the 2004 Democratic convention; Update: Second accuser comes forward; Update: I won't quit, says Fairfax; Update: More accusers?

She did not identify her assailant by name to all of them, apparently, saying in some cases that he was someone whose “political career had since taken off.” Justin Fairfax, who admits to having spent time with Tyson in his hotel room at the 2004 convention, was nominated and then elected lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2017.

And, per the Times, she did identify him by name to at least one confidant.

I don’t know what to do with these facts. I’d never convict someone on a bare allegation, with no hard evidence to support it and no corroboration at the time of the assault. But there’s no reason except one that I can think of to doubt Tyson’s account. She seems to be a credible person, she has no partisan motive to lie, she’s not asking for money, she’s not doing the interview circuit, she claims a specific date and place that the assault occurred, the accused admits to having been with her behind closed doors at that time and place.

The one exception is that the media hasn’t found any evidence of Fairfax doing this to someone else, but that’s barely a reason for skepticism. If you demand evidence of a pattern of misconduct before you believe an accuser, effectively you’re giving everyone one free assault before they begin to lose the benefit of the doubt.

In interviews with The Times this week, five people said that Dr. Tyson told them over the last two years that she had been sexually assaulted in an encounter at the convention, and that her account was consistent with her public statement this week. The people said she provided varying levels of detail to them, but three of them said she identified the assailant as Mr. Fairfax, a lieutenant governor, or a politician on the rise.

Dr. Tyson did not tell anyone in 2004 about the encounter with Mr. Fairfax, according to people close to her legal team, and she did not notify or file a complaint with police…

In separate interviews Thursday and Friday, five friends of Dr. Tyson said she told them of the encounter either in late 2017, early 2018 or last Fall. One, a mutual friend of Dr. Tyson and Mr. Fairfax, who asked not to be named to protect his own privacy, said he dated Dr. Tyson in the late 1990s and believed her account. Given her experience with abuse as a child, he said, she was not the type of person to become intimate in the way she described with someone she had just met.

I don’t know how you’d go about proving that last part apart from the humiliating spectacle of interviewing all of her ex-boyfriends about how long it was before they slept together, but if that’s true it’s as close to a smoking gun as we’ll get. If Fairfax is claiming a one-night stand and Tyson simply doesn’t do one-night stands because of past experiences, who’s lying? (By her own admission in the statement she released a few days ago, she did welcome a kiss from him before he assaulted her.)

Bottom line: I think Tyson’s telling the truth but I don’t feel confident enough absent contemporary evidence to risk ruining Fairfax’s life over it. What other conclusion can there be, really?

By the way, as Ed noted earlier, all three of the stooges at the top of Virginia’s government look likely to survive now. Northam doesn’t want to leave, the legislature can’t make him leave, and Fairfax’s and Mark Herring’s scandals have diminished his critics’ appetite for pushing him out. Last night’s statement from the Virginia House Democrats affirmed that they’re “disappointed” in Northam and Herring and feel “great concern” about the allegation against Fairfax but they didn’t call on any to quit. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus still wants Northam out but they’re calling for due process for Fairfax and seem inclined to forgive Herring. This Mexican standoff between the top three looks like it’ll end with all of them cautiously lowering their weapons and resuming the status quo.

Update: I wouldn’t risk ruining his life by presuming the worst about him based on one allegation. I’ll do it over two, though. Bye, Justin.

Note the detail about contemporaneous corroboration.

Update: The tide turns.

Update: Fairfax will not go quietly.

Update: Sweet fancy Moses. What kind of miscreant are we dealing with here?