Amid two separate sexual-assault allegations, the law firm employing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has placed him on unpaid leave while it investigates.
Larren M. Nashelsky, chairman of Washington, D.C.-based Morrison Foerster, said in a statement that it has retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation of the allegations against Fairfax, the Washington Examiner reported.
“During the investigation, Justin Fairfax has taken a leave of absence from Morrison & Foerster. Justin has agreed to cooperate with the firm’s investigation,” Nashelsky said.
Meanwhile, the Richmond Times reported late Monday afternoon that two of the three government staffers to Fairfax and two employees of his political action committee have resigned.
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner are among prominent Democrats calling on Fairfax to resign.
The Examiner noted that outside employment is common for Virginia lieutenant governors, and the loss of income will impact Fairfax.
With only a small number of official duties along making potential tie-breaking votes in the State Senate, the job pays only $36,321 annually.
“We take the allegations against Justin very seriously,” Nashelsky said. “As a firm, we believe that it is important to seriously listen to any allegation of sexual assault or harassment, and to treat all persons making such allegations with respect and sensitivity.”
Fairfax, 39, has been accused by college professor Vanessa Tyson of sexual assault at a hotel during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. On Feb. 8, four days after the first allegation emerged, a second woman, Meredith Watson, publicly accused him of raping her while both were undergraduates at Duke University.
Fairfax, a rising star in his party, has refused to resign, insisting his encounters with the women were consensual. He has called for the FBI to conduct an investigation of he accusations.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders nationwide have called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign over a photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook showing a man in blackface and another figure in a KKK outfit.
Later, Attorney General Mark Herring, the second official in line for the governership, after Fairfax, admitted he had dressed in blackface for a college party in 1980.