Lt. Gov. Fairfax claims ‘political rivals’ helped release 1st sexual assault allegation in CBS lawsuit


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lawyers for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax filed an amended civil lawsuit against CBS in federal court Thursday. The complaint alleges that “political rivals,” including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, were involved in the release of sexual assault allegations made by one of his accusers in order to “derail his political future” ahead of a possible run for governor in 2021.

Fairfax filed a $400 million defamation suit against CBS last month claiming the network’s interviews with Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, the two women accusing Fairfax of sexual assault, inflicted emotional distress and “promoted false statements.”

The amended complaint reiterates the claim that CBS had knowledge that the allegations against Fairfax were not true before and after the interviews aired. The lawsuit reads, in part:

“CBS published, promoted, and amplified these false statements during separate interviews with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King broadcast by CBS to a national audience on April 1, 2019 (Tyson) and April 2, 2019 (Watson). CBS heavily promoted the interviews in the time leading up to the broadcasts. Fairfax brings this action 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 told 8News on Thursday that the accusations made by Dr. Tyson were a “political hit job” involving Stoney.

The lawsuit alleges that the mayor, a former aide of Stoney, Thad Williamson, and Williamson’s wife, Adria Scharf, were involved in Dr. Tyson’s decision to release her accusations against Fairfax.

The defamation suit states that Fairfax was “warned” that if he were to announce a plan to run for governor, Stoney, Williamson and Scharf would “promote” Dr. Tyson’s accusation against Fairfax.

“Fairfax had indeed been warned in the fall of 2018 that should Fairfax announce his intention to run for Governor in 2021, 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.

Lauren Burke, Fairfax’s spokesperson, said Thursday that the lawsuit shows that Stoney, Williamson and Scharf coordinated with Dr. Tyson to release her allegations in the wake of Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface photo scandal.

“The Amended Complaint exposes the behind-the-scenes coordination between Fairfax’s political rivals, namely Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney’s former aide Thad Williamson, Williamson’s wife Adria Scharf, and Vanessa Tyson, who claimed Fairfax had assaulted her fifteen years ago,” Burke said in a statement following the release of the amended lawsuit. “These allegations reveal that these political foes of Fairfax desperately attempted to stop him from ascending to the Governorship of Virginia in the immediate aftermath of a photo scandal that led to calls for the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam beginning on February 1, 2019.”

A spokesperson for Stoney told 8News that the mayor was “absolutely not” aware of the alleged correspondence in February between Ms. Scharf and Dr. Tyson and denied the accusations made by Fairfax in his lawsuit against CBS.

“The insinuation is 100 percent untrue, and frankly, it’s offensive,” Jim Nolan, Stoney’s spokesperson, wrote in an email to 8News.

Dr. Tyson’s lawyers and CBS News did not immediately respond to 8News’ request for comment. 8News also reached out to Ms. Watson’s attorneys on Thursday for comment.

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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