Justin Fairfax, the Virginia Lieutenant Governor who earlier this year was accused by two women of sexual assault in episodes alleged to have occurred more than a decade ago, has filed a defamation lawsuit against CBS News and CBS Broadcasting, claiming false statements made by his accusers in interviews with anchor Gayle King were published, promoted and publicized without any effort to determine if they were accurate.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, seeks $400 million in damages as well as an injunction against disseminating any statements proven to be defamatory.
“We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit,” CBS News said in a statement.
The politician in February was accused by two women. Vanessa Tyson, a college professor, alleged Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004. Meredith Watson. accused Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when both attended Duke University. Fairfax’ suit calls statements the two women made “intentionally fabricated, false, and politically-
motivated.” Their accusations surfaced just as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was grappling with a scandal tied to a photo discovered on his page in a 1984 yearbook that showed unidentified men, one in blackface and one costumed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Fairfax would have succeeded Northam if he had decided at that time to resign.
Fairfax has described encounters with both women as “entirely consensual.”
The lawsuit takes aim at one of CBS News’ flagship properties, “CBS This Morning,” and one of its best-known anchors. King has seen her profile grow in recent months as she has scored exclusive interviews with newsmakers and celebrities, including musician R. Kelly and the two Fairfax accusers.
The suit alleges CBS “had information that these accusations were false,” and claims comments made by CBS News anchors “exposed millions of people to lies that have done extraordinary damage to [Fairfax’} reputation and his ability to earn a living. His once-promising career – a lawyer at top firms, former federal
prosecutor, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, candidate for Governor of Virginia for 2021 – has been severely damaged.”