Virginia politician’s accuser on Stanford sex assault panel


STANFORD, Calif. (AP) – A college professor who has accused Virginia’s lieutenant governor of sexual assault will appear Tuesday at a long-planned Stanford University academic symposium on that topic.

Stanford officials said she won’t discuss the incident during the sold-out event at the school’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Vanessa Tyson was the first of two women who alleged last week that Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted them, prompting calls for his resignation. Fairfax has denied the allegations and said he won’t resign.

The event was planned several weeks ago before Tyson aired her accusation and is titled, “Betrayal and Courage in the Age of #MeToo.” It will be live-streamed at .

Tyson entered the building without addressing a waiting throng of reporters.

At the opening of the event, center director Margaret Levi admonished an audience of about 100 in the room to refrain from asking personal questions. Tyson was greeted with a standing ovation.

“This is an academic event. This is not about current events or the current political situation,” she said.

Tyson was joined on stage by a fellow center researcher Jennifer Freyd and moderated by law school professor Paul Brest to discuss “the underlying dynamics of sexual violence and institutional betrayal” according to symposium literature. Tyson is an associate politic science professor at Scripps College about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. She is spending the year at Stanford in part researching “the political discourse surrounding sexual assault,” according the center’s website.

Tyson’s accusation was made public last week when a friend shared a private Facebook message sent by Tyson that alluded to the possibility of Fairfax becoming governor if the current Gov. Ralph Northam one was forced to resign because of a racism scandal. That message was posted on a conservative political website that follows Virginia politics.

The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson issued a statement in her name last week.

In the statement, Tyson said Fairfax held her head down and forced her to perform oral sex in his hotel room at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. Fairfax says the encounter was consensual. Tyson has not otherwise commented publicly and hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment from The AP.

Stanford officials said in a statement Tuesday that Tyson will not take questions related to Fairfax. Questions from the audience will be screened in advance.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is prepped for the Senate session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. Vanessa Tyson, a college professor who has accused Fairfax of sexual assault, will appear Tuesday at a long-planned Stanford University academic symposium on that topic. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)