Everyone accused of sexual assault deserves due process

Democrats have rediscovered the virtues of due process. All it took was a woman to accuse one of their rising political stars of sexual misconduct.

Last week, Vanessa Tyson alleged that Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, sexually assaulted her in 2004. Democrats are pressuring Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign over a racist photo in a medical school yearbook, so the allegation has significant political implications.

Tyson, who’s now a professor at a California college, said she met Fairfax during the Democratic National Convention. The two went to his hotel room one day to pick up papers. According to Tyson, Fairfax kissed her, and she kissed him. She didn’t want it to go further, but she alleges he forced her to perform a sex act.

She said she suppressed the memory for years as she earned her doctorate. She was stunned in October 2017 to see Fairfax running for statewide office. After he won, she reached out to The Washington Post, which investigated, but ultimately sat on the story.

Fairfax has categorically denied the allegation. A statement from his office said, “He has never assaulted anyone — ever.”

If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it is.

Just months ago, another California professor accused a powerful political figure of sexually assaulting her many years ago. Her name was Christine Blasey Ford. His name was Brett Kavanaugh. Instead of burying this story, the media couldn’t get enough of it.

Sens. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrat presidential candidates, said they believed Ford. Republicans who insisted Kavanaugh deserved due process were attacked for not believing survivors. Many in the mainstream media said Kavanaugh was unfit for office after he reacted angrily to the allegations.

The evidence against Fairfax is much stronger than it was against Kavanaugh. Ford never said when or where the attack happened. She couldn’t even produce a witness establishing that the two had ever even met. When questioned about the details, her story kept changing.

In contrast, Fairfax not only acknowledges knowing Tyson but says they had an encounter he insists was consensual. Ford could have had a partisan motive for leveling her accusation. Tyson doesn’t, calling herself a “proud Democrat.”

Fairfax claimed the Post had found “significant red flags and inconsistencies” in Tyson’s story. The Post rebuked that assertion in its own story, writing instead that it “could not find anyone who could corroborate either version.”

There’s more evidence against Fairfax than there ever was against Kavanaugh. Yet it wasn’t until a second women came forward on Friday accusing Fairfax of another assault that many Democrats started calling for his resignation. The second allegation appears extremely credible, as the woman told people about the incident contemporaneously.

Although the hypocrisy is obvious, Democrats were right to wait. Fairfax’s guilt or innocence shouldn’t be determined by his gender — as the “believe women” mantra mandates — but by the evidence.

The media and Democrats didn’t apply this standard to Kavanaugh, but it’s the framework everyone should use going forward.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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