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More than 740 academics have signed a letter of support for her, according to its organizer, Nadia E. Brown, a political scientist at Purdue University who said Dr. Tyson also told her of the assault. A GoFundMe account, set up by a political scientist at Menlo College in California, had raised more than $20,000 as of Friday morning. A hashtag has sprung up on Twitter: #IBelieveVanessa.
“Everything she said in her statement was exactly what she told me when we talked,” said Diane L. Rosenfeld, a founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, who said Dr. Tyson told her of the assault in December 2017.
“She’s not doing this for any fame,” Dr. Rosenfeld added. “She’s not suing him for money, so disbelievers and doubters can’t say, ‘Oh, she just wants money.’ She just wants, as she says, the Virginia voters to know who this person is.”
Dr. Tyson’s account was also partly corroborated late Wednesday night by Representative Bobby Scott, Democrat of Virginia, whose aides said Dr. Tyson told the congressman a year ago that she had made an allegation of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax, without offering details.
Dr. Tyson has declined to give an interview to The New York Times. She has said she was spurred to come forward by the realization that Mr. Fairfax might soon become Virginia governor. That possibility arose after the disclosure last week of a racist photograph on Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook page, and his subsequent admission that he had once blackened his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume, leading to widespread calls for him to resign.
In her statement, Dr. Tyson described a forced sexual encounter with Mr. Fairfax in a Boston hotel room while the two were working at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. It began with kissing that was “not unwelcome,” she said, but quickly escalated into non-consensual oral sex.
She asked for privacy, insisting that she wanted to resume her life as an academic and professor. “I do not want to get embroiled in this highly charged political environment,” she wrote in the statement.