Eastern Virginia Medical School says probe into Northam's yearbook photo is done

Henrietta Brewer
May 24, 2019

BEN HATCH: 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 that photograph.

Richard Homan, Dean of EVMS School of Medicine, speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Norfolk, Va., about a report announcing the results of an investigation into a blackface photo that appeared on the yearbook page of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from his Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook.

Northam made the comments Wednesday after an investigation commissioned by Eastern Virginia Medical School failed to determine whether Northam is in the yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. McGuireWoods did find ten photographs depicting individuals in blackface based on the law firm's review of all EVMS yearbooks.

Perhaps the most striking revelation of the investigation: Officials at Eastern Virginia Medical School - including the current president and his predecessor - knew about the racist photo on Northam's page for years but kept quiet.

Investigators learned that Homan and a former EVMS president knew of the photograph's existence prior to it surfacing online in February and at times when Northam was running for public office.

The photo, which came to gentle in early February, sparked a fluctuate of outcry and frequent calls for Northam, a Democrat, to resign his space of enterprise.

The governor issued a statement Wednesday saying he cooperated with the investigatio and again insisted he is "not in the racist and offensive photo". I felt it was important to take accountability for the photo's presence on my page, but rather than providing clarity, I instead deepened pain and confusion. He says the yearbooks contained other content that could be offensive to minorities, women, and other ethnic groups.

"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 states. Northam denied this encounter happened, the report said.

FILE - In this February 2, 2019 file photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, gestures as his wife, Pam, listens during a news conference in the Governors Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. That said, some people they talked to indicated that there was often not enough infrastructure or funding at the school to fully support past diversity efforts.

The findings are unlikely to have a major effect on state politics or Northam, who has been trying to regain his footing for several months.

After the photo came out, Northam released a statement, saying, "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo, and for the hurt that decision caused then and now".

Per the AP, investigators "also said they couldn't discern how the picture was placed on Northam's yearbook page, but found no evidence it was placed there by mistake or as a prank". "That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume".

He resisted all calls to step down amid the scandal.

Todd Gilbert, the Republican Majority leader of Virginia's House of Delegates, called the report "entirely inconclusive" and said he was concerned EVMS kept knowledge of the yearbook private.

Being that the investigation was completed by an entity paid for and selected by EVMS, an action that we condemned at the genesis of the investigation, we can not have full confidence in the results, and in our opinion, the community can not either.

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