Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax sues CBS for $400 million

Updated: Sep. 12, 2019 at 4:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is suing TV network CBS for $400 million after it aired interviews with two people who have accused him of sexual assault.

“This defamation suit arises from intentionally fabricated, false, and politically motivated statements made by Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson alleging that they were sexually assaulted by Justin Fairfax," the lawsuit says. "CBS published, promoted, and amplified these false statements during separate interviews with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King broadcast by CBS to a national audience on April 1 and April 2.”

“We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit," CBS News said in a statement Wednesday.

Fairfax has denied the allegations for months, which came to light in February a few days after a blackface scandal involving Gov. Ralph Northam.

One of the accusers says Fairfax forcing the woman to “perform oral sex on him."

“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” the statement said. “Utterly shocked and terrified, I tried to move my head away, but could not because his hand was holding down my neck and he was much stronger than me. As I cried and gagged, Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.”

Tyson said the assault caused her “both deep humiliation and shame.”

“Reading Dr. Tyson’s account is painful,” Fairfax said in February. "I have never done anything like what she suggests.”

“As I said in my statements this morning, I have nothing to hide. Any review of the circumstances would support my account, because it is the truth. I take this situation very seriously and continue to believe Dr. Tyson should be treated with respect," the statement said. “But, I cannot agree to a description of events that simply is not true."

In a statement Wednesday, Fairfax’s attorney said “CBS must be held accountable for its reckless disregard for the truth, knowing failure to follow even rudimentary journalistic standards, and its failure to follow up on leads that would demonstrate the allegations to be false. Fairfax has made numerous direct requests to CBS to update, correct or retract the false stories it hyped repeatedly, broadcast, and kept in circulation via its website and social media presence.”

Watson’s attorney, Nancy Smith, said “We look forward to everyone testifying under oath, now that this matter is in court.”

Attorneys for Tyson says they stand “by the statements she made during her interview with Gayle King.”

“Mr. Fairfax’s suggestion that Dr. Tyson came forward – at great personal risk – to detail her harrowing account of forced oral sex as part of a political conspiracy to prevent him from being Governor of Virginia is ludicrous,” her attorneys said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “As we have said previously, threats, bullying and victim-blaming by Mr. Fairfax will not deter Dr. Tyson from speaking up, and she looks forward to testifying under oath to the Virginia General Assembly about Mr. Fairfax’s sexual assault of her.”

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