STANFORD (CBS SF/AP) — The first woman to accuse Virginia’s Lt. Governor of sexual assault spoke Tuesday evening at a sold-out event at Stanford.
The event was a symposium titled “Betrayal and Courage in the Age of #MeToo.” It was announced with Dr. Vanessa Tyson, a current fellow at Stanford, before she revealed her allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Tyson says the assault happened in 2004.
Tyson was the first of two women who said last week that Fairfax sexually assaulted them, prompting calls for his resignation. Fairfax has denied the allegations and said he won’t resign.
The sold-out event was live streamed online.
In a statement earlier Tuesday, Tyson said she will wouldn’t discuss her accusations against Fairfax during the actual event and would not deviate from the discussion as originally intended and promoted by Stanford officials.
“Every woman matters. Every survivor matters. Regardless of their background. Regardless of where they come from,” said Tyson.
“There’s a recurring theme, at least, when women come forward that this – deliberate attempt to try and undermine someone’s credibility. And also, a prioritization or a privileging of women who might come from a higher social-economic status.”
Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor who spearheaded the recall effort against Judge Aaron Persky, said that Dr. Tyson’s own bravery is commendable.
“I think that it’s really important that so many like Professor Tyson are coming forward and saying, ‘Enough is enough!’ We cannot have elected officials who have been involved in this kind of behavior,” she said.
Tyson also recounted how she and Stanford colleagues watched Christine Blasey Ford testify in Washington, D.C., during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.
“As she shook, we shook with her,” she said. “As she told her story, we felt the pain she so visibly demonstrated.”
Tyson is now represented by the same legal team that represented Blasey Ford.
Tyson was joined on stage by a fellow center researcher Jennifer Freyd and moderated by law school professor Paul Brest to discuss “the underlying dynamics of sexual violence and institutional betrayal” according to symposium literature. Tyson is an associate professor of political science at Scripps College about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. She is spending the year at Stanford in part researching “the political discourse surrounding sexual assault,” according the center’s website.
Tyson’s accusation was made public last week when a friend shared a private Facebook message sent by Tyson that alluded to the possibility of Fairfax becoming governor if the current Gov. Ralph Northam was forced to resign because of a racism scandal. That message was posted on a conservative political website that follows Virginia politics.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.