We already know a little about Vanessa Tyson, the first woman who accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. But the second woman, who accused Fairfax of raping her in college, hasn’t really come forward into the public spotlight in the same way. Her name is Meredith Watson and the Associated Press reports she’s a private single mom living in Maryland:
The Maryland woman who has accused Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of raping her while they were students at Duke University in 2000 is a single mother who values her privacy, worked for several years as a school fundraiser and had a sometime-turbulent personal life, according to friends and court records.
Before going public last week as the second woman to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault, Meredith Watson, a 39-year-old from the Baltimore suburbs, took steps to maintain her privacy, including taking down her social media accounts. Her legal team, which previously represented three female Fox News employees suing host Bill O’Reilly for defamation, has declined interview requests on her behalf. Online searches haven’t yielded current photos or even signs of current employment.
A review of court records by The Associated Press found that Watson has a history of financial disputes and accusations of stalking from an ex-boyfriend.
The stalking story was spelled out in more detail earlier this week by Politico. Watson’s boyfriend sought and was given a restraining order against her after an incident at a vacation house:
In a petition for the restraining order, obtained by POLITICO, the man described an incident in which Watson “was detaining me against my will … [and] not letting me leave” a vacation house in Corolla, N.C., and “dented the trunk” of his vehicle with her fist. In another instance, Watson showed up at his house stating “she was going to kill herself” and sent “threatening text messages” to the man, who had his sister come over to persuade her to leave, according to the document.
Watson’s spokeswoman, Karen Kessler, did not comment for this story before publication. After the story was published a lawyer for Watson, Nancy Erika Smith, said the order granted was a seven-day court order and that Watson “was not in the Courtroom and did not know about the proceedings or have an opportunity to be heard” when it was issued. The man “abandoned the effort after hearing from Ms. Watson’s lawyer,” Smith said.
Finally, there’s one more story from Watson’s past which broke this week at the NY Times. In addition to claiming she was raped by Justin Fairfax while in college at Duke, Watson has also claimed she was raped by basketball player Corey Maggette:
Nancy Erika Smith, the lawyer for the woman who accused Mr. Maggette and Mr. Fairfax, Meredith Watson, said in a statement Friday that Ms. Watson had been raped by a Duke basketball player during her sophomore year but did not name the player. Ms. Smith also said that Ms. Watson had reported her rape to an unspecified dean at the university, but that the dean had “discouraged her from pursuing the claim further.”
Duke has acknowledged it is investigating an allegation that a player raped the woman, but a spokesman for the university declined to comment on the identity of the player or the assertion that the university failed to act on the accusation…
Years before Ms. Watson came forward as the second woman to publicly accuse Mr. Fairfax of sexual assault, inflaming a political crisis in Virginia, she told multiple friends that she had been raped by Mr. Maggette, according to one of those friends and Facebook messages exchanged with another.
This second allegation of rape does seem to go back a long way. The friend who came forward says Watson told him about the incident involving a Duke basketball player back in 2001, just a few years after it happened.
A spokesperson for Watson says after she told a dean about the rape and he discouraged her from reporting it, she decided not to go to the police. I guess Duke will be able to find that dean and confront him, but I wonder if anyone, in this day and age, is going to confess to discouraging a college sophomore from reporting an alleged rape. For his part, Corey Maggette, who is now retired from the NBA and works as a basketball analyst, has denied every having sexually assaulted anyone.
Honestly, it feels like the Virginia story has fallen off the front pages at this point. Northam is still Governor and Fairfax is still Lt. Gov. and the sense of urgency to replace either of them seems to have vanished. The Democratic Party got one good news cycle by calling for them both to resign and the fact that they haven’t done so is barely news.