Virginia Lt. Gov. Fairfax sues CBS over accuser interviews

Virginia

FILE – In this Feb. 14, 2019 file photo Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate during the session at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Fairfax filed a $400 million defamation lawsuit Thursday, Sept. 12 against CBS Corp. and CBS Broadcasting in New York, alleging the network published false statements by two women who have accused him of sexual assault. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has filed a $400 million lawsuit against CBS, alleging the company defamed him when it broadcast interviews with two women he says have falsely accused him of sexual assault.

The lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges nobody at the company investigated or adequately fact-checked the allegations made by Meredith Watson or Vanessa Tyson before airing them. It says CBS’ actions have damaged Fairfax’s reputation and ability to earn a living.

“Fairfax brings this action to restore his reputation and clear his name, ensure the truth prevails, stop the weaponization of false allegations of sexual assault against him, and vindicate his rights under civil law,” the lawsuit says.

The Associated Press sent a request for comment to CBS.

Tyson and Watson leveled their accusations against Fairfax in February. Tyson says Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004. Watson says Fairfax raped her in 2000 when both were students at Duke University.

Fairfax has adamantly denied their allegations, saying the encounters were consensual and that the women’s actions were politically motived.

Tyson and Watson made their allegations against Fairfax at a moment when he seemed poised to ascend to the governor’s post. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was facing numerous calls to resign after a racist photo showing a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume was found on his medical school yearbook page.

“The timing and circumstances of these false and salacious allegations demonstrate that it was a political hit job_a deliberate and calculated effort to permanently harm Fairfax’s political and professional career and to attempt to prevent him from becoming Governor of Virginia,” the lawsuit says.

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