Statement Analysis®

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax's Statement - February 6, 2019

"I'd like to begin by emphasizing how important it is for us to listen to women when they come forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment. As a former prosecutor and someone who is close with a number of women who are survivors of sexual assault, I know that many survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence, and it is absolutely essential to their healing and our healing as a culture that we give all survivors the space and support to voice their stories."

Everything he said is true but it has nothing to do with the allegations.

"Regarding the allegation that has been made against me - while this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously."

Saying the allegations are "surprising and hurtful" is a truthful statement. However, this is not a denial. I find it odd that he acknowledged that no one, which includes Tyson, "makes charges of this kind lightly."

"This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me. "

Fairfax said the allegation is "not true." This is a weak denial as we don't know what part of the allegation is not true. Later in his statement, he will admit he had a "consensual encounter" with Tyson. Therefore, the allegation she went to his hotel room appears to be true. The two of them being in the bedroom appears to be true. What allegation is not true? Fairfax wants us to assume the allegation he forced her to perform oral sex is not true.

"As I stated previously, 15 years ago, when I was an unmarried law student, I had a consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation. At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years. She in no way indicated that anything had happened between us made her uncomfortable.

When people refer back to previous statements they made, it raises suspicion. One shouldn't have to do this. A person should simply state the facts again regardless of how many times they have discussed the incident. By referring to a previous denial, he is trying to make it look like he is being truthful in his current denial.

I have never liked the phrase "At no time." Technically, there is no such thing as "no time." Time always exists. What Fairfax is saying, there was not a time when Tyson expressed any discomfort or concern. A better denial would have been to say, "At the time of our interaction, she didn't express any discomfort or concern." Saying, "She didn't express" is better than saying, "At no time, did she express."

Fairfax said Tyson didn't express any concerns during the encounter nor during the months following it "when she stayed in touch with me." However, in her statement, Tyson said she avoided Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and "never spoke to him again." The question is, did they stay in contact after the encounter? Remember, there are several ways you can phrase a statement. Fairfax claimed they did stay in touch by saying, "When she stayed in contact with me." The word "with" always indicates distance. Look at where the pronouns "she" and "me" are located within his statement. "She" is located towards the beginning and "me" is located at the end of the sentence. The word "with" separates them. This separation indicates the two them did not stay in touch. A better statement would have been to say, "Nor during the months following it when we stayed in touch." In that statement, the word "with" is not used.

"The first indication I had that she felt that anything had happened between us 15 years ago made her uncomfortable was when I was contacted by a national media organization shortly before my inauguration in 2018. I voluntarily met with their staff, in person, told them what I knew about the encounter and responded to all of their questions. I also shared the allegation and my account of the events with a number of leaders in Richmond because then, as now, I have nothing to hide.

Saying "I have nothing to hide" is not a denial.

I would like to encourage the media, my supporters, and others to treat both the woman who make this allegation and my family with respect for how painful this situation can be for everyone involved. I wish her no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice. But I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true.

Fairfax said he knows the description of events are not true. He does not specify what these events are. This makes for a weak denial.

If we learned anything from the past week, it's that we have listen to people's experiences to learn from them so we can make progress. Like many of you, I've spent time over the last several days discussing difficult subjects with people very close to me, I believe that if we continue to listen will continue to make the progress that makes the commonwealth of Virginia a unique place, not only in the South, but in the United States of America.

These are unprecedented and difficult times. We have the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the challenge and come together. I look forward to continuing my work to unify the commonwealth."

Case Synopsis

Dr. Vanessa Tyson's Statement

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax's Statement


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