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Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax files $400 million lawsuit against CBS, claims he’s victim of “political hit job”

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax filed a $400 million defamation lawsuit Thursday against CBS Corp. and CBS Broadcasting, stating the network aired “intentionally fabricated, false, and politically motivated statements.”

Capital News Service

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By McKenzie Lambert

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax filed a $400 million defamation lawsuit Thursday against CBS Corp. and CBS Broadcasting, stating the network aired “intentionally fabricated, false, and politically motivated statements.”

Fairfax, a lawyer, claims the network aired false statements from Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, the two women who allege they were sexually assaulted by Fairfax 15 and 19 years ago, respectively.

 The lawsuit criticizes the network for “intentionally” failing to investigate leads “that would have placed the truthfulness of Watson’s and Tyson’s stories in serious doubt.” The lawsuit alleges the allegations were “a political hit job.”

Fairfax said CBS “recklessly disregarded” attempts to verify the women’s claims by not running an independent investigation. He also said the “defamatory statements have been repeatedly and foreseeably republished by media outlets and other third parties throughout the country,” which has damaged his reputation and ability to earn a living.

CBS said in a statement: “We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

The allegations originally surfaced in February, at a time when — according to the lawsuit — Fairfax “was poised to ascend to the Governorship of Virginia” as calls rose for the resignation of Gov. Ralph Northam following a blackface scandal. All three of the state’s top executive branch Democrats were engulfed in scandal within a week of the discovery of a photograph in Northam’s medical school yearbook showing a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb.

 Tyson came forward with sexual assault allegations against Fairfax days after the blackface photo was released. Not long after that, Attorney General Mark Herring — who had called for Northam’s resignation — admitted wearing blackface to a party in the 1980s.

Fairfax accused CBS of acting with actual malice by “hyping” allegations and that airing the interviews was “calculated to maximize ratings for CBS in light of the ongoing scandal involving Governor Northam.”

Fairfax has claimed his innocence since the beginning and said he had consensual intimacy with both women. He has maintained that law enforcement should investigate the accusations, though no charges have been filed against him. After the CBS interviews aired, Fairfax released the results of polygraph examinations that he said exonerate him.

The lawsuit is intended to “restore his reputation and clear his name, ensure the truth prevails, stop the weaponization of false allegations of sexual assault against him, and vindicate his rights under civil law.”

Fairfax stated that the network was attempting to align with #MeToo victims after scandals rippled up to CBS CEO Les Moonves, who was fired over sexual misconduct allegations. “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose was fired after eight women made sexual harassment allegations. “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager left the network also in the face of sexual misconduct allegations.

Fairfax’s legal team concluded that “the network sought to visibly align itself on the side of perceived victims to improve its public image.”

Fairfax takes aim at others in the lawsuit including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. The lawsuit says Stoney views Fairfax as a “political rival who has been positioned to delay Stoney’s desired run for Governor.”

Tyson’s allegations went viral on media outlets on Feb.4. The lawsuit claims a message was originally shared by Adria Scharf, who is married to Thad Williamson, Stoney’s former adviser. Williamson, according to the lawsuit, has been friends with Tyson since college.

“Stoney, Williamson, and Scharf intended to promote a supposedly damaging, uncorroborated accusation against Fairfax involving Tyson in an attempt to harm Fairfax personally and professionally and to derail his political future,” the lawsuit claims.

In February, a spokesman for Stoney denied the mayor is involved, saying the insinuation was “100 percent not true.”

In addition to demanding at least $400 million in compensation and a jury trial, the lawsuit also asks for an injunction that would stop the network from “disseminating, distributing, or publishing any footage or statements that are judicially determined to be defamatory.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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VIDEO: Suspect sought in serial destruction of property at downtown law firm

Security video shows the suspect outside Tavenner & Beran, PLC, located at 20 N 8th Street, on Saturday, September 19. The most recent incident occurred on September 21.

RVAHub Staff

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From Richmond Police:

Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the man in the photo and video shown here who intentionally cut the phone and internet cables to a private law firm on several occasions this year.

Security video shows the suspect outside Tavenner & Beran, PLC, located at 20 N 8th Street, on Saturday, September 19. The most recent incident occurred on September 21.

Detectives believe this suspect opened the electrical box and cut the wires inside back in January. After a lock was installed, he proceeded to cut all the wires to the electrical box again.

Anyone with information about the identity of this suspect is asked to call Fourth Precinct Detective J. Land at (804) 646-3103 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used.  All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Suspect sought in downtown convenience store robbery

Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the individual in the photo who stole hundreds of dollars worth of candy from a convenience store earlier this month.

RVAHub Staff

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From Richmond Police:

Richmond Police detectives need the public’s help to identify the individual in the photo who stole hundreds of dollars worth of candy from a convenience store earlier this month.

On Sunday, September 13, an unknown male entered the BP in the 2600 block of East Main Street. He removed a garbage bag from his pants and then went to the candy aisle and filled the entire bag with candy. The suspect left the store and was last seen walking to a hatchback vehicle.

Detectives ask anyone with any information about this man’s identity to call First Precinct Detective T. Wilson at (804) 646-0672 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smart phones may also be used. All three Crime Stoppers methods of contact are anonymous.

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RPD Seeking GRTC Pulse Assault Victim, Man Wanted for Attacking Woman

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From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the victim of a recent assault on a GRTC Pulse bus to come forward.

At around noon on August 31, 2020, security video shows a man rising from his seat on a GRTC Pulse bus. As he steps towards the back of the bus, he intentionally and forcefully strikes the victim, seated directly behind him, in the head. The suspect pretends to slip, and then slips near the driver. We covered the victim’s face for her safety, but detectives would like to speak to her about the incident. The suspect eventually exited the bus.

The same man is suspected in two other random attacks on women in the City of Richmond, as well as another assault of a woman in Henrico County.

At around 10:15 a.m. on August 31, 2020, security video shows the elderly victim using a cane to cross East Broad Street at North 4th Street. When she reaches the sidewalk, the suspect punches her in the face with such force she’s knocked to the ground. The suspect walked away.

At around 3:45 p.m. on July 21, 2020, security video shows the victim on her phone and the suspect seated directly in front of her. As the bus approaches a stop, the suspect leans back and elbows her in the head and chest. The suspect again pretends he slipped and fell, then elbows the victim in the head a second time. The suspect exited the bus.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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