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Judge dismisses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s lawsuit against CBS

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax’s lawsuit against CBS, which alleged the network defamed him when it aired interviews in 2019 with two women who accused him of sexual assault.

Judge Anthony J. Trenga ruled in favor of CBS, writing in his ruling that Fairfax had “not plausibly alleged that CBS engaged in actionable defamation or published the challenged broadcasts with ‘actual malice’ or that CBS intentionally inflicted emotional distress.”

In April 2019, “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King aired interviews with Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson. Both women alleged that Fairfax assaulted them years ago, in 2004 and 2000 respectively.

Fairfax has denied their claims and said the encounters he had with the two women were consensual. Hours after CBS began promoting King’s interviews, Fairfax’s office issued a statement saying that Fairfax had been “steadfast from the start in saying that serious, fair, and impartial investigation and examination of the facts would demonstrate that these allegations are false and that he engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever.”

The allegations against Fairfax surfaced as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was embroiled in his own scandal over a decades-old blackface photo that resurfaced. Prior to the sexual assault allegations, it was thought that Fairfax had a good chance of assuming the governorship if Northam were to step down.

In his lawsuit, Fairfax argued that CBS and King failed to do their due diligence before airing the interviews with Watson and Tyson.

When the lawsuit was filed, a CBS spokesperson said the network stood by its reporting and would defend it.

Fairfax could not be reached late Tuesday evening. However, in a statement to the Associated Press, Fairfax said he will file an appeal.

“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,” Fairfax said. “I will not stop until I do and can put an end to this political smear campaign.”