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Duke Opening Up Investigation into Alleged 1999 Sexual Assault by Ex-Player

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Twenty years ago, Meredith Watson was a student at Duke University, and her alleged experiences with sexual assault have become the focus of an investigation by Duke in 2019.

Watson has previously accused Justin Fairfax, who as lieutenant governor of Virginia stands to ascend to the governor’s chair if the ongoing racism scandal against Gov. Ralph Northam ends in Northam’s resignation or removal from office.

Now, according to ESPN, an unnamed basketball player from Duke’s 1999 team is in Watson’s crosshairs.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the allegations in a statement to media after his Blue Devils defeated Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.

“I think there was an allegation made, right?” Krzyzewski said, according to ESPN.

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“So, I’m not sure that’s true or not, but there’s an allegation. I didn’t find out about it until late last night, and I have no knowledge about it. … Our university will take care of whatever actions and give whatever information that’s needed to be done.

“I think our [athletic director] has put out a statement that we’ll give to you. It’s very … something like that is serious. So, our school looks at it that way, and we’ll do whatever we can to make sure that we answer whatever questions are posed to us.”

The university issued a statement of its own in response to Watson’s claims.

“Duke first learned of the allegations involving a student-athlete last night when they were reported by the media,” the statement said. “Coach Krzyzewski confirms that he had no knowledge of the alleged conduct from 1999. The university is looking into the matter and will have no further comment at this time.”

Do you believe Watson's allegations?

The talent-rich 1999 Duke team made a deep run in March Madness that year, advancing to the NCAA title game, where the Blue Devils lost to Connecticut. Four Duke players were selected in the 1999 NBA draft.

Watson tells a chilling tale of her ordeal at the university.

“Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke,” a statement released by her attorney claims. “She went to the Dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax.”

Fairfax, according to Watson, subsequently sexually assaulted her as well.

“Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape,” the statement released by the law firm Smith Mullin states. “She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out. She turned and asked: ‘Why did you do it?’ Mr. Fairfax answered: ‘I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.'”

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Fairfax is not just in trouble with Watson. She is the second woman to come forward accusing him of sexual assault, and those allegations have put Fairfax in the center of a Virginia political world that is roiled by scandal.

In Richmond, Northam steadfastly refuses to step down from the governor’s office despite having admitted to wearing blackface while in college in the 1980s.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is also in similar trouble, himself having worn blackface in the past, though he joined in calls for Northam to resign before that news became public.

Before the sexaul assault allegations arose, Fairfax was in position to emerge from the wreckage in the best possible position for his political career. But that’s all changed now.

And one of Duke most talent-rich teams sees its victories tainted by allegations of a potential crime by a player, and a cover-up by an administrator.

The player Watson is accusing has not been named, leading to plenty of wild speculation. But until she formally names names or the investigation concludes, the public will be largely in the dark.

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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