Embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax compared himself to Jim Crow-era lynching victims in a surprise speech Sunday, as he resists widespread calls to resign prompted by allegations of sexual assault, the AP reports. Fairfax strongly defended himself and lashed out at his critics from his rostrum in the state Senate as the 2019 legislative session was coming to a close. "I've heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that," Fairfax said, referencing legislation the General Assembly passed expressing "profound regret" for lynchings in Virginia between 1877 and 1950. "And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices."
"And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing," Fairfax added. When he finished his five-minute impromptu speech, stunned senators sat in awkward silence. Fairfax, who is black, has been accused by two women of sexual assault. Both of the alleged victims are African American. Earlier this month, Vanessa Tyson publicly accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex in his hotel room during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. Her lawyer said last week that Tyson plans to meet with prosecutors in Massachusetts to detail her allegations. Meredith Watson has also publicly accused Fairfax of sexual assault. She issued a statement accusing him of raping her 19 years ago while they were students at Duke University. (One of his accusers also said she was raped by an ex-NBA player.)