A $400 million lawsuit was filed Thursday against CBS Corp. and CBS Broadcasting in New York by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the defamation suit alleges the network published false statements by two women who have accused Fairfax of sexual assault.
“The lawsuit includes allegations — which Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney denies — that the mayor was part of a conspiracy to damage Fairfax politically, and puts the sexual assault scandal into public view again,” the paper reports.
The lawsuit is quoted stating: “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.”
“Vanessa Tyson, a college professor, has accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex in a Boston hotel room in 2004. Meredith Watson has accused Fairfax of raping her while the two were students at Duke University in 2000,” the Times-Dispatch reports. “The women made their allegations public — and later did interviews with CBS — in February, when Gov. Ralph Northam faced intense pressure to resign over a scandal related to a racist photo on his page in his 1984 medical school yearbook.”
Fairfax was in position to replace Northam as governor, but Northam did not resign, the paper notes, adding that Fairfax is positioning himself for a run for governor in 2021.
The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia’s Eastern District, focuses in part on interviews done by Watson and Tyson with “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King that were aired in April, the report notes.
“The lawsuit said an eyewitness was present ‘during the consensual encounter between Watson and Fairfax’ and accuses CBS of not asking Watson if she encountered anyone while entering or leaving the room,” the stoy reports. “The lawsuit accuses CBS of intentionally failing to investigate leads, some of which were provided by Fairfax’s team, and of not asking questions that Fairfax’s spokeswoman suggested they ask.”
The lawsuit also reportedly states that “a current CBS legal officer, who was a Duke classmate of Watson’s and Fairfax’s, had information all along that Fairfax did not rape or sexually assault Watson.”