Politics

Eastern Virginia Medical School announces outcome of investigation into Northam’s racist photo controversy – live updates

Officials from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), which Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam attended, unveiled their findings of an independent investigation into racist photos discovered on Gov. Northam’s 1984 yearbook page, as well as on others over the years. The law firm McGuire Woods was hired by the school to carry out the investigation.

“With respect to the photograph on Governor Northam’s personal page, we could not conclusively determine the identity of either individual depicted in the photograph,” the report said. “No individual that we interviewed has told us from personal knowledge that the Governor is in the Photograph, and no individual with knowledge has come forward to us to report that the Governor is in the photograph.”

Outcry over the governor’s past was widespread earlier this year after Northam’s page in the medical school’s yearbook was published, showing an image of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume. Northam initially apologized for appearing in the photo but then the very next day said that he did not believe he was either of the two figures in the photo.

Northam also attributed the appearance of the photo on his page to someone else’s mistake and said he had not seen the yearbook, which he said he did not purchase, until last week. Northam meanwhile still remains in office after fending off numerous calls to resign by national and state politicians from both parties. 

“While we have identified no information that the photograph was placed on Governor Northam’s personal page in error or by any other means not at his direction, we could not conclusively determine the origin of the Photograph,” the report said.

As part of its investigation, McGuire Woods law firm attempted to contact over 80 former and current students at EVMS from the classes 1983-2021. Of that 80, they interviewed 30.  The investigation also included interviews with 15 current and former faculty, administration and staff.

McGuire Woods interviewed Northam on March 27, 2019. Northam named five individuals who may have had information relevant to the 1984 yearbook. McGuireWoods spoke with several of the individuals, including four who spoke to Northam on Feb. 1, including two staffers. The firm conducted follow up interviews with Northam, his chief of staff Clark Mercer and interviewed the Virginia governor’s wife, Pam Northam.

The firm attempted to contact over 80 former and current students at EVMS from the classes 1983-2021. Of those 80, McGuire Woods interviewed 30.  The investigation also included interviews with 15 current and former faculty, administration and staff.


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