Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has received a ruling in his lawsuit against CBS stemming from an interview Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning”, conducted with two women accusing him of sexual assault. A judge has dismissed the defamation lawsuit the lieutenant governor filed in September 2019. However, Fairfax wasn’t without victory, as the judge denied the network’s request for the lieutenant governor to pay its’ legal fees, according to a report from The Washington Post.
Fairfax filed a $400 million lawsuit against the network following King’s interview with Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson – the two women who made allegations against him in January 2019. In the lawsuit, Fairfax claimed CBS “recklessly disregarded whether what Watson and Tyson were saying was, in fact, true.”
He also said that the network neglected to “follow up on leads that would demonstrate the allegations to be false.”
The judge concluded that “Fairfax does not plausibly allege that CBS, in publishing ‘sensational and highly damaging accusations made by Tyson and Watson’ against him, violated ‘basic journalistic standards.’”
Fairfax’s lawsuit also claimed that a witness was present during his sexual encounter with Watson and “could corroborate that it was consensual.”
The judge additionally stated that the allegations made by the women were “uncorroborated,” saying that their claims were made “under circumstances that raised issues as to their timing. And despite Fairfax’s detailed denials, which CBS reported on air, CBS’s commentary could be viewed by a reasonable listener as placing his accusers’ statements in a sympathetic light that gave them some degree of legitimacy.”
Fairfax has maintained that his encounters with both women were consensual. The incidents date back to the early 2000s when he attended Duke University with both Tyson and Watson. Watson accused Fairfax of rape in 2000, and Tyson claimed that he forced her to perform oral sex on him during the summer of 2004.
The lieutenant governor claimed that the allegations were politically motivated, according to The Washington Post, as the accusations were made public in the midst of Fairfax potentially replacing Gov. Ralph Northam following a controversy over racist photos in his medical school yearbook. Watson’s lawyers were pushing for Fairfax’s resignation, as was Tyson. Calls were even made for his impeachment, but those calls ended shortly after.
Fairfax affirmed that he respects the court’s ruling but does not agree with it. Fairfax also says that he plans to appeal. “We look forward to appealing the ruling on the motion to dismiss and view this is as a significant step forward in establishing that Meredith Watson fabricated her claim of rape and sexual assault and that Vanessa Tyson fabricated her claim of sexual assault,” he said.