WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The Virginia NAACP Executive Committee is defending Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, as two women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault. Fairfax denies the allegations.
On FOX 5 On the Hill Sunday, Virginia NAACP Executive Committee Member Phillip Thompson said he thinks Fairfax deserves due process before resigning.
"We find that troubling for African Americans in the state of Virginia where we supported the Democratic Party strongly for them to jump to these conclusions quickly without allowing due process and allowing Justin Fairfax to answer to the allegations and each allow the women to come forward if that's what they choose to do," said Thompson.
A lawyer for Meredith Watson, 39, said in a statement that Fairfax raped Watson 19 years ago while they were students at Duke University.
Vanessa Tyson, a California college professor, said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him at a Boston hotel in 2004.
On Saturday, Fairfax issued a statement repeating his strong denials that he had ever sexually assaulted anyone and made clear he does not intend to immediately step down and says he is calling for authorities, including the FBI, to investigate.
Democratic Del. Patrick Hope said he wants to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax on Monday, but Hope is not a powerful figure in the House and there's little sign there's a broad appetite for impeachment with lawmakers set to finish this year's legislative session by the end of the month.
If an impeachment hearing does occur, though, attorneys for both of the women say they are willing to testify.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Black Caucus, and several members of the Democratic party have called for Fairfax to resign.
While both victims, Watson and Tyson, are African American, Thompson says he is concerned that Fairfax is facing greater opposition because of his race.
"Our community has seen this play out time and time again where a black man is condemned before we has a chance to defend himself," he had said in a statement.
“Imagine my horror when I heard that different Democratic groups and individual Democrats were calling for Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax’s resignation based on allegations of sexual assault. The clear facts are that Mr. Fairfax states that the allegations are false. These allegations have not been substantiated in any way," he said.
This comes as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also faces calls for his resignation, after admitting to having worn blackface, as a racist photo was found on his medical school yearbook. Attorney General Mark Herring has also admitted to having worn blackface.
Fairfax would be next in line to lead the Commonwealth if Northam were to resign.
"Because of the crimes that the lieutenant governor is accused of actions that are more serious. And they require a little more of an analysis before we jump top conclusions. We're talking about serious potential crimes for which he could be jailed if criminal action went forward," said Thompson.
If Fairfax were to resign, the Associated Press reports it's unclear who could replace him. Northam may try to appoint a Democrat, while Republicans could mount a legal challenge with the goal of having Sen. Steve Newman, the Senate's pro tem, serve as both a voting senator and temporary lieutenant governor.
Watch Virginia NAACP Executive Committee Member Phillip Thompson's interview with Tom Fitzgerald on FOX 5 On the Hill in the video player above.