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Capitol chaos blowing over?

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 2/15/2019, 6 a.m.
The storm over the State Capitol appears to be easing up — for now.

For example, a small group of African-American clergy and leaders of political groups went to the Capitol on Monday to show their support for the governor remaining in office.

While dozens of protesters from Richmond to Charlottesville gathered Wednesday evening outside the Capitol to call for a “Ralph Must Resign” protest, in barbershops and beauty salons around Richmond, there is little such talk.

“We are all sinners,” said James E. Henson Jr., a printing business owner, who also sees no need for the governor to resign. “We all are in need of forgiveness.”

Already, some of Gov. Northam’s critics are discussing how to work with him, including the 21-member Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. Its chairman, Henrico County Delegate Lamont Bagby, has begun talking about the Caucus working with the governor without rescinding its resignation call.

Mr. Herring, who issued a public statement about his past, has largely become the forgotten man. He is planning to run for governor in 2021, and for now has largely kept out of sight and mostly been left unscathed.

Lt. Gov. Fairfax’s troubles began Feb. 3, when the conservative political blog Big League Politics, which had sent out the explosive blackface photo involving Gov. Northam, released a screenshot of a Facebook post in which California university professor Vanessa Tyson alleged that the lieutenant governor assaulted her in 2004 when they both attended the Democratic National Convention.

Lt. Gov. Fairfax was dealing with Dr. Tyson’s allegation when he was hit with a second accusation Friday, Feb. 8, this time from Meredith Watson, a former student at Duke University, who publicly alleged that he raped her in 2000 while they were both undergraduates.

Lt. Gov. Fairfax has repeatedly stated that the sexual encounters with both women were consensual.

While the Virginia legislature has not come up with a way yet to deal with the information, Lt. Gov. Fairfax could face legal problems if prosecutors in Boston or in Durham, N.C., investigate and believe they could make a case. There is no statute of limitations on rape in North Carolina and the statute of limitations has not expired in Massachusetts.

At this point, most people, including African-Americans, have called for no rush to judgment of Lt. Gov. Fairfax, instead urging that both women and the lieutenant governor be given the opportunity to tell their stories during an investigation and reminding that people are considered innocent until proven guilty.

On Wednesday, reports began surfacing that Dr. Tyson planned to speak with Boston prosecutors.

Statement on behalf of Meredith Watson, second Fairfax accuser Released Friday, Feb. 8

We serve as counsel for Meredith Watson, who was raped by Justin Fairfax in 2000 while they were students at Duke University. Mr. Fairfax’s attack was premeditated and aggressive. The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship.

Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession. Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.