A Stanford fellow made her first public appearance Tuesday night after accusing the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia of sexual assault. Vanessa Tyson talked about sexual violence to a sold-out “Me Too” event on the Stanford campus. While she didn't speak about the allegations directly, many felt her personal experience came through.
In the midst of a national political scandal, Tyson took to the stage before a crowd of 100 academics at Stanford University to a standing ovation. The visiting fellow was a panelist in a long-scheduled symposium called "Betrayal and courage in the age of Me Too.”
“When you think of women and girls 65 percent will be raped or victim of some type of sexual assault,” said Tyson. “Make no mistake it's an epidemic.”
As she rattled statistics about sexual assaults, she not once mentioned her own personal experience with Fairfax, who she said at the 2004 democratic national convention sexually assaulted her. Fairfax has said the encounter was consensual.
“As she shook we shook with her, we felt the pain she so visibly demonstrated,” said Tyson. “There's a beauty in it that you know you are not alone.”
Tyson spoke of empathy, recounting how she watched Palo Alto's Christine Blasey Ford testify in Washington D.C. during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. Tyson is now represented by Blasey Ford’s legal team.
“I think he should resign immediately,” said Stanford Professor of Law Michele Dauber. “I believe these two women who have come forward.”
Dauber who is behind the recall effort of Judge Aaron Persky was among those in attendance.
“We are in a moment in time where women across the country all walks of life are coming forward and saying this kind of behavior of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct sexual assault is completely unacceptable in our leaders,” said Dauber.
Many people applauded Tyson for speaking up and stepping out.
“I thought it was important and her courage is apparent,” said Bonita Banducci.
“Speaking as a professor of a women's college,” said Tyson. “Sometimes you have to lead by example, no matter how hard it is.”
Tyson's legal team said in a statement that Tyson is willing to cooperate with any investigation against Fairfax and expects the Virginia legislature will take appropriate action.