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Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax files $400M lawsuit against CBS for giving voice to his accusers

2019-09-12

Virginia’s embattled lieutenant governor is seeking a whopping $400 million in damages from CBS News for airing interviews with two women he said have falsely accused him of sexual assault.

Democrat Justin Fairfax has strongly denied the years-old claims by Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, who stepped forward separately in February.

Anchor Gayle King interviewed both women on “CBS This Morning” several weeks later and went over some disturbing details from their accusations, which the 40-year-old politician claims were not corroborated by any independent investigation.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Thursday, accuses the network of defaming his character and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on him.

“Yes, CBS recklessly disregarded whether what Watson and Tyson were saying was, in fact, true,” the document states.

In a brief statement issued on Thursday morning, CBS News said it stands by its reporting and "will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

WATCH: Meredith Watson claims VA's Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax assaulted and raped her in 2000, when they were both students at Duke University -- allegations he strongly denies.

Some of the details she shared with @GayleKing are disturbing. https://t.co/zozbmRjUEV pic.twitter.com/jkl3J77806

Tyson, who met Fairfax at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, claims he forced her to perform oral sex in his hotel room during the event. Watson accuses Fairfax of raping her while they were classmates at Duke University in the early 2000s.

“He forcibly sexually assaulted and raped me,” Watson told CBS. “I was not on the bed, initially. There was a couch. And he pulled me over and I tried several times to get up and was pushed back down, held down.”

Tyson, a politics professor, said she was kissing Fairfax in his hotel room when she suddenly couldn’t feel her neck.

“I thought there was something wrong with my neck," she told King during the interview. “I honestly didn’t know what was going on. And then the next thing I know, like, my head is, like, literally in his crotch… And I’m choking and gagging.”

WATCH: Vanessa Tyson, a politics professor, claims Virginia's lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax assaulted her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Some of the details she shared with @GayleKing are disturbing. https://t.co/e6bPJdK5cE pic.twitter.com/Gn8gHf1N64

The public allegations came in the middle of another scandal in Virginia. Gov. Ralph Norman faced his own public outcry after he confessed to appearing in a racist 1984 yearbook photo featuring a man in black face and another in a KKK robe. Norman later withdrew his apology, saying neither man in the photo was him.

The charges against Fairfax led him to step down as a partner at a law firm, but he has managed to keep his lieutenant governor’s post despite calls for his resignation.

The lawsuit alleges he has been falsely branded a “rapist” and a “predator,” which has hurt his career and family.

“His once promising career and political prospects have been severely harmed by the reckless airing of these false allegations," the complaint reportedly states.