CBS Gets Libel Suit Dismissed over Va. Lt. Gov.’s Rape Allegations

‘These false, fabricated and politically motivated allegations were made more than a year ago at the precise moment it was speculated I would rise to Virginia’s Governorship…’

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Justin Fairfax / IMAGE: WTVR CBS 6 via Youtube

(Associated Press) A judge on Tuesday tossed out a libel lawsuit filed by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax against a television network he accused of slanted reporting on sexual assault allegations levied against him.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga in Alexandria dismissed the lawsuit. But he declined to grant CBS’ request that the network be awarded attorney’s fees, disagreeing with the network’s contention that Fairfax’s lawsuit amounted to an abuse of the legal process.

Fairfax sued CBS for $400 million in September, after the network aired exclusive interviews with two women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, who accused him of sexual assault.

Watson alleged that the assault happened when both were in college at Duke University. Tyson said her assault happened during the  and during one of the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, when were working as volunteers.

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Fairfax accused the network of reporting the allegations–which happened not long after the #MeToo movement and the unproven accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—in a way that insinuated his guilt.

CBS lawyers defended the network’s journalism and accused Fairfax of using the lawsuit to attack his accusers.

Fairfax has said he felt compelled to file the lawsuit to try to clear his name after the allegations were made. He said he has taken a lie-detector test to no avail. The libel lawsuit, he hoped, would provide the next best way to prove his innocence.

In a statement Tuesday, Fairfax said he will appeal the dismissal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

“Since these false, fabricated and politically motivated allegations were made more than a year ago at the precise moment it was speculated I would rise to Virginia’s Governorship, I have been denied any meaningful opportunity to establish the truth, clear my name and get justice. I will not stop until I do and can put an end to this political smear campaign.”

The allegations against Fairfax, a Democrat, came in February 2019 when Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam faced calls to resign after the blackface photo emerged on his yearbook page.

But the allegations against Fairfax blunted the momentum of those seeking Northam’s resignation as members of the Left and the media immediately backpedaled fearing the governorship might be delivered into Republican hands as a result of the two scandals.

Neither of the two leaders ultimately faced any meaningful accountability. Although their own political aspirations were derailed, outside megadonors, activists and interest groups rallied to flip the state legislature blue last November, giving Northam carte blanche to enact a sleight of radical and controversial measures.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press