Debra Katz, attorney for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2018. ChairmanÂ Chuck GrassleyÂ called for a â€œsafe, comfortable and dignifiedâ€ hearing on a sexual assault allegation againstÂ BrettÂ KavanaughÂ as the panel opened a historic hearing that promised to shape the Supreme Courtâ€™s future and redefine the â€œMe Tooâ€ era.
The political scandals enveloping Virginiaâ€™s elected officials continued to intensify on Friday, with a second accusation against the stateâ€™s lieutenant governor capping a dizzying week for the state.
Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring haveÂ Â both admitted to wearing blackface at various times throughout the 1980s, while Lt. Gov. Justin FairfaxÂ is nowÂ defendingÂ himself against two womenâ€™s allegations of sexual assault. [While the Democratic trio has refused to leave office amid mounting political pressure to do so, if they all fled Richmond, state House Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, would take over Virginiaâ€™s top public office.]
Fairfax, who is alsoÂ a Morrison & Foerster partner, hadÂ retained Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitzâ€™s Rakesh Kilaru in D.C. to combat the first assault allegation. Kilaru is a former associate counsel in the White House counselâ€™s office under President Barack Obama.
Vanessa Tyson, the Scripps College professor accusing Fairfax of sexual assault in 2004, has turned to Katz, Marshall & Banks in D.C. The Katz firm gained national attention last year for its high-profile representation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the 1980s.
On Friday,Â a MarylandÂ woman, Meredith Watson, accused Fairfax ofÂ sexually assaultingÂ her in 2000, when the two were both students at Duke University. Watson is represented by Nancy Erika Smith of Montclair, New Jersey-based Smith Mullin. Fairfax strongly denied the new allegations in a statement to The Washington Post, calling them â€œdemonstrably false.â€
Fairfax has threatened legal action in relation to the TysonÂ accusation, which he has strenuously denied, while Tysonâ€™s supporters have raised more than $20,000 in two days via a GoFundMe fundraising effort spearheadedÂ by Melissa Michelson, a Menlo College professor. A source close to Tysonâ€™s legal team said Tyson learned of the fundraising effort after it was launched.