CBS News is standing by its reporting after Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax filed a lawsuit against the news outlet for publishing an accusation of sexual assault against him.
“We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit,” the company said in a prepared statement.
Meredith Watson, one of two women to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault, came forward with her claims in an interview with CBS. Watson alleged that Fairfax raped her when they were both students at Duke University. She characterized the alleged assault as premeditated and aggressive.
Watson’s allegation was revealed about a week after Vanessa Tyson made a similar accusation against Fairfax. She accused the lieutenant governor of forcing her to perform oral sex on him as she cried and tried to escape.
Fairfax has maintained his innocence, but said that he had a consensual sexual encounter with Tyson. In his lawsuit, he alleges that CBS published Watson’s accusations with the knowledge that it was false because they wanted to make money off of the story. Both women have stood by their allegations against Fairfax.
“As alleged in the complaint, CBS had access to information indicating that the suspiciously-timed accusations made against Fairfax were false, but thought attempting to burnish its #MeToo credentials in light of recent, high-profile sexual assault and harassment accusations against key figures at CBS was more important than the truth,” a press release from Fairfax stated. “Fairfax filed this lawsuit so that he can fight these allegations in a court of law, with the protections of due process, and on a level playing field.”
The lawsuit was launched in Fairfax’s individual capacity, not as his capacity as the lieutenant governor.