SEABROOK – Former Hyattsville resident and current Lt. Gov. of Virginia Justin Fairfax announced his resignation from his post at Morrison and Foerster law firm on July 1 after being placed on paid leave following accusations of the sexual allegations made in February.
Fairfax has worked for the law firm since September 2018 but has not returned after two women accused him of sexually assaulting them in 2000 and 2004.
His resignation announcement comes after Morrison and Foerster concluded their own investigation on Fairfax’s actions during his time with the firm and found “no hint of any wrongdoing.”
“It has been an honor to be affiliated with such a distinguished firm as Morrison & Foerster, and I wanted to allow them to conclude their investigation before announcing my departure from the firm,” Fairfax said in a released statement. “But with that process completed, I have decided that, at the present time, it is best for me to focus my attention on serving the people of Virginia.”
In a statement, the law firm confirmed reports that they did conduct an internal investigation of Fairfax’ conduct as a member of their organization. Fairfax voluntarily took the leave of absence in February and cooperated with their investigation, the group said.
“The investigation conducted by the firm found neither allegations nor evidence of any wrongdoing by Justin during his tenure at the firm,” the statement said. “With the conclusion of our investigation, Justin’s leave of absence has ended. Justin has informed us, however, that he has decided to leave the firm and we respect that decision.”
Calls for his resignation grew following the after two claims of sexual assault were publicly released earlier this year. One of those accounts came on Feb. 6 from Scripps College Associate Professor Vanessa Tyson, who said the incident happened after they first met in 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
A second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward with accusations of her own against Fairfax, dating back to 2000 when both were undergrad students at Duke University. Fairfax has maintained his innocence since the allegations were released to the public and said he would not resign from his post as lieutenant governor.
“I have passed two full, field background checks by the FBI and run for office in two highly contested elections with nothing like this being raised before,” Fairfax said in February. “It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me. I will not resign.”
As calls of his removal grew, DeMatha Catholic High School President Rev. James R. Day said that it is important to know all the facts of the cases before calling for his resignation. Fairfax graduated from the Hyattsville institution in 1996 and was held in high regard by the school’s staff, Day said.
“I believe that there will be an investigation in which I believe even Mr. Fairfax himself requested it,” Day said. “We need to let the investigation go forward and see before we render a decision.”
He graduated with a degree in Public Policy Studies from Duke University in 2000 and earned his Juris Doctorate, the highest law degree in the country, in 2005 from the Columbia Law School. According to the Virginia legislature, the lieutenant governor role is a part-time position and has very few duties when the state’s General Assembly is on recess.
Recently added to Fairfax’s duties was presiding over a special legislative session scheduled for July 9 on gun control. On June 17, Virginia State Del. Robert Bell sent a letter to Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn requesting a hearing into the allegations into Fairfax during the special session. Bell said that it would be a “good opportunity for this hearing to take place” where the focus would be the accusers and Fairfax.
“We Republicans stand ready to give Ms. Watson and Dr. Tyson the bipartisan public hearing they have asked for,” Bell said. “Some of your members have expressed privately and publicly their desires for hearings. We respectfully ask the Democratic Caucus to agree to something – anything that would allow bipartisan public hearings to take place.”
Filler-Corn said in response that state Democrats will not participate in conducting a hearing at this time and not turn the allegations placed on Fairfax “into a partisan sideshow.”