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Woman Alleging Sexual Assault By Virginia's Lt. Gov. Hires Washington Law Firm

Feb 5, 2019

Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET

A California woman who has accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her 15 years ago has hired the same law firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford in her allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Fairfax has denied the allegation, which first surfaced on a conservative blog and was later described in a report by The Washington Post.

The allegation has come to light just as Fairfax could be on the verge of becoming the state's chief executive in the wake of a scandal involving Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and a blackface yearbook photo.

The woman making the accusation against Fairfax has retained Katz, Marshall and Banks, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, and is consulting with her attorneys about next steps, according to a source close to the legal team. The law firm assisted Blasey Ford as she came forward during Kavanaugh's confirmation process with allegations that he assaulted her when the two were in high school.

Suggestions of the accusation against Fairfax were first published on the conservative site Big League Politics, which also broke the story on Friday about the photo on Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page, which depicts a person in blackface and another in a KKK robe and hood.

In response to the story, Northam quickly released a statement acknowledging he was in the photo and apologizing. The following day he walked back the admission, saying that on further reflection he does not believe he was the person in the photo. However, he did acknowledge having appeared in blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume around the same time.

Northam is facing strong pressure from Democrats across the country calling for his resignation, which has put Fairfax — who would take over the governorship in the event of Northam's resignation — in the spotlight.

NPR has not confirmed the allegation against Fairfax.

In a statement early Monday, Fairfax called it "false and unsubstantiated" and noted that The Washington Post had looked into the same accusation more than a year ago and decided not to go forward with a story.

Later in the day, the Post published a piece describing the allegation and the newspaper's steps in reporting the story. According to the story, Fairfax and his accuser met in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The woman alleged that what began as consensual kissing escalated to a forced encounter that included oral sex. Fairfax says the encounter was entirely consensual.

The newspaper said it could not corroborate either person's version of events and decided not to publish at the time.

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