Lt. Gov.'s accuser identifies herself as Vanessa Tyson, professor of politics

NBC News is reporting that the woman who accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault has now given permission to media outlets to use her name.

Tyson’s name was first revealed on Sunday by Big League Politics, the same conservative news site that broke the Gov. Northam yearbook photo last Friday. Because her name has been circulating, Heavy has already done its usual roundup of publicly available information, including a couple of photos she has posted on her Twitter feed:

This older photo would have been taken about two years prior to the alleged assault:

Tyson is a professor and her bio on Stanford’s website reads in part:

Vanessa Tyson will use her fellowship year to research the politics and policies surrounding sexual violence against women and children in the United States. More specifically, she will explore political discourse surrounding sexual assault, corresponding policies, and the unique identities of sexual assault survivors…

Tyson spent years volunteering as an advocate for sexual violence awareness and prevention, serving as one of the founding members of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Survivor Speakers’ Bureau, and starting a self-esteem/self-awareness program for female juvenile offenders through the Department of Youth Services in the State of Massachusetts.

Tyson currently serves as associate professor in the department of politics at Scripps College. She has a BA from Princeton University in politics, coupled with a certificate in African American studies, and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago in political science.

In short, this is someone who is very familiar with the politics surrounding sexual assault. And as Jazz pointed out this morning, she has hired the same law firm that represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This puts Democrats and the media in a difficult position. Will they apply the same standard (believe all women) in this case that they did with Blasey Ford? And if not, why not?

One of the arguments I’ve already seen on Twitter for why this isn’t getting the same level of attention is that there is a vast difference between a Lt. Gov. and a Supreme Court Justice. That’s true and yet the fact remains that the current governor is being called on to resign by many on the right and left. It’s not clear that’s going to happen as Gov. Northam seems determined to dig in and wait this out, but there’s at least a possibility Justin Fairfax could become the Gov. of Virginia in the next week or two. That’s still not quite the same as a Supreme Court Justice but it’s a very big job. I don’t think Democrats can sidestep this on the basis that Fairfax isn’t important enough to worry about.

Assuming Democrats (and the media) have to address this head on, it’s worth noting that there is already more corroborating evidence for Tyson’s claim than there ever was for Dr. Ford’s. She gave a specific place and time the alleged assault happened and Justin Fairfax has already admitted he met her and that they had sex. He claims it was consensual; she claims it started that way but became non-consensual as it progressed. So we’re not arguing over whether something happened only over the details of how each individual experienced it.

So are Democrats going to believe Vanessa Tyson? Is the media going to give her a detailed profile pointing to her credibility as an academic or are we suddenly going to see a new set of rules? Here’s how it’s going so far: