Lt. Gov. Fairfax sues CBS for $400 million after it aired interviews with sexual assault accusers

He says CBS didn't investigate leads to boost network image

By Samantha Smith - Digital Content Producer

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is suing the CBS TV network over its interviews with two women who've accused him of sexual assault. 

Fairfax is bringing a defamation suit against the broadcasting company and is seeking $400 million in damages. He is acting on his own, not on behalf of the commonwealth. 

READ THE FULL COMPLAINT

According to court documents, Fairfax says the company "published, promoted, and amplified" the allegations, which he claims are false, to boost the network's image in light of its own sex scandals. 

"That CBS chose to air these false claims of sexual assault is not surprising. Since 2017, CBS had been publicly excoriated with its own #MeToo scandals involving several high ranking figures at the network, including CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Charlie Rose, former CBS News Chairman and former Executive Producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager and former CBS CEO Les Moonves." 

The complaint goes on to allege that Gayle King and her CBS This Morning team "intentionally failed to investigate leads ... that would have place the truthfulness of Watson's and Tyson's stories in doubt. It goes on to say that King deliberately didn't challenge Watson during the on-air interview. 

“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.”

In the suit, Fairfax alleges that Meredith Watson told a fabricated story of a college rape and sexual assault that never happened. He claims that Watson and Tyson were politcally motivated, and attempted to use their allegations to oust him. 

He also claims that Dr. Vanessa Tyson's allegation is based on a 15-year-old consensual encounter.  

READ TYSON'S FULL STATEMENT

In a statement from Febuary, Tyson tells a different story. 

"What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault. Mr. Fairfax put his hand behind my neck and forcefully pushed my head towards his crotch. Only then did I realize that he had unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, and taken out his penis. He then forced his penis into my mouth. 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. I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual. To be very clear, I did not want to engage in oral sex with Mr. Fairfax and I never gave any form of consent. Quite the opposite. I consciously avoided Mr. Fairfax for the remainder of the Convention and I never spoke to him again."

 Fairfax says he voluntarily took and passed two separate polygraph tests in regard to each allegation, and also sent detailed letters to prosecutors encouraging them to open criminal investigations into his conduct and the conduct of the accusers. 

The Lt. Gov. says he wants the broadcasting company to be held accountable for its "utterly irresponsible journalism" and says he trusts the court system will provide him the due process he was denied by CBS and others.  

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