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Rising….Then Headed for a Fall

Ascent of Political Star, And The Allegation That Followed

RICHMOND, Va.--One afternoon in the early 1990’s, a middle-schooler showed up at Frank E. Emory Jr.’s law office in Charlotte, sent there by an aunt who knew Mr. Emory from church.

The child, in town visiting relatives, wanted to hear about the law. He had plans.

He said, ‘I’m going to run for office,’ ” Mr. Emory recalled. “ ‘I am going to be a leader. I believe that I have something to offer.’ ”

Ever since that meeting, Justin Fairfax has been carrying out his plan, steadily and doggedly, becoming lieutenant governor of Virginia by age 38. It had been a starry run--Duke University, presidential campaigns, Columbia Law School, a United States attorney’s office.

Then, days ago, Mr. Fairfax was on the cusp of becoming Virginia’s next governor, the second Black governor in Virginia history, as Gov. Ralph Northam reeled from a scandal over a racist yearbook picture.

But Mr. Fairfax’s ever-upward career trajectory suddenly took a sharp turn. Two women have come forward with detailed allegations that he sexually assaulted them, one in a fraternity house at Duke University in 2000 and the other in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

He allegedly committed the assaults during some of the most formative years of Mr. Fairfax’s ascent, when classmates were sure he was on his way to a powerful career in politics. One of the accusers did not tell the authorities at the time, her lawyer said, partly because Mr. Fairfax was a politically influential figure on the Duke campus.

Now, some who knew Mr. Fairfax are wondering how well they had really known him all along. ..To read more, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper