Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is suing CBS News for $400 million, claiming that the embattled network conducted interviews with women accusing him of sexual assault to repair its own public image, according to reports.
The Democratic official accused the network of defamation in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the Eastern District of Virginia, news station WTKR reported.
CBS News aired interviews in April with two women, Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, who alleged that Fairfax sexually assaulted them in 2000 and 2004. He has insisted that the sexual encounters were consensual.
In the lawsuit, Fairfax claimed that the network ignored information “indicating that both allegations had not been corroborated by any independent investigation.”
Fairfax claimed that the two accusers’ sit-down with CBS News anchor Gayle King was aimed to boost the reputation of the network after it weathered the sexual misconduct scandals involving former anchor Charlie Rose and ex-honcho Les Moonves.
In a statement, his office claimed CBS “sought to exploit false allegations of sexual misconduct to repair its public image and boost its bottom line,” NBC12 reported.
Fairfax — who remained in office following the allegations — also alleged that the coverage hurt his political prospects.
“Most importantly, Fairfax has been falsely branded a ‘rapist,’ ‘predator’ and ‘sexual abuser,’” the suit said. “His once-promising career and political prospects have been severely harmed by the reckless airing of these false allegations.”
Both women have urged Virginia lawmakers to hold hearings on their allegations, though the Democratic legislative leaders have resisted.
“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,” a Fairfax spokesperson said in a statement to news station WTRK.
CBS denied Fairfax’s allegations Thursday in a statement to The Post.
“We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit,” a CBS spokesperson said.
Tyson’s lawyers also slammed Fairfax’s attempt Thursday to “discredit” her allegations of sexual assault.
“This lawsuit appears to be yet another desperate stunt by Mr. Fairfax to preserve his political career at the expense of survivors of sexual assault,” the statement said.
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