RICHMOND, Va. — The political crisis in Virginia spun out of control Wednesday when the state’s attorney general confessed to putting on blackface in the 1980s and a woman went public with detailed allegations of sexual assault against the
With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, the day’s developments threatened to take down all three of Virginia’s top elected officials, all
of them Democrats.
The twin blows began with Attorney General Mark Herring issuing a statement acknowleding he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party when he was a 19-year-old student at the
University of Virginia.
Herring — who had previously called on Northam to resign and was planning to run for governor himself in 2021 — apologized for his “callous” behavior and said that the days ahead “will make it clear whether I can or should
continue to serve.”
The 57-year-old Herring came clean after rumors about the existence of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol, though he made no mention of a picture Wednesday.
Then, within hours, Vanessa Tyson, the California woman whose sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax surfaced earlier this week, put out a detailed statement saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but Tyson issued the statement
in her name.
Tyson, a 42-year-old political scientist who is on a fellowship at Stanford University and specializes in the political discourse of sexual assault, said, “I have no political motive. I am a proud Democrat.” Fairfax — who is in line to become governor if Northam resigns — has repeatedly denied her allegations.