The #MeToo allegation against Justin Fairfax

As Steve discussed in a post below, Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, has been accused of having non-consensual sex with a woman in 2004. Fairfax admits he had sex with the woman but claims she consented.

Fairfax also claimed that the Washington Post didn’t run the woman’s story because it found the story raised “red flags.” The Post, however, denies there were any such flags. The Post says it didn’t run the story because it found no similar complaints of sexual misconduct against Fairfax and no one who could corroborate her account, in part because she had not told anyone what happened until just before she brought her report to the paper.

To a genuine #MeToo-er, none of this should matter. As David French points out, the allegation against Fairfax is far more credible than Susan Blasey Ford’s allegation against Bret Kavanaugh.

The Fairfax accuser came forward far sooner than Ford, she identified the specific time and place of the attack, the accused agreed that he was with the accuser at that time and place, there was an admitted sexual encounter, and — according to the Post — the paper “did not find significant red flags and inconsistencies” in her claims.

None of this was true in the case of Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh.

Even so, I’m not ready to believe the accusations against Fairfax. Apparently, his accuser did not tell anyone about the alleged forced sex in the period after her encounter with Fairfax. She waited until shortly before Fairfax was inaugurated in January 2018 to bring her allegations to the Post, and apparently it wasn’t until shortly before going to the Post that she ever told anyone about the alleged misconduct.

Moreover, the Post found no indication that Fairfax has ever engaged in such conduct before or after the alleged 2004 encounter. On these facts, only someone who, as a matter of doctrine, always believes the woman in a he-said-she-said dispute could conclude that Fairfax more likely than not engaged in the conduct he’s accused of.

But the “record” isn’t closed. The woman reportedly has hired an attorney. Evidence supporting her claim might be uncovered. For example, other women may come forward to report sexual misconduct by Fairfax.

Virginia Democrats might want to reflect on the risk of pushing Fairfax into the governor’s office before they can have greater confidence that evidence corroborating his accuser’s claim won’t emerge. But panic doesn’t usually give rise to reflection.

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