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Federal Appeals Court To Hear LG Fairfax Defamation Lawsuit

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FILE: Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax's libel lawsuit over allegations of sexual assault will be heard in federal court. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

A federal appeals court will reconsider Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s libel lawsuit against CBS on Thursday.  Fairfax accuses the television network of airing sexual assault allegations that were levied against him in 2019. The network broadcast exclusive interviews with the accusers, Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson, to a national audience. Both accuse Fairfax of assaulting them separately more than 15 years ago.

Fairfax alleges CBS failed to thoroughly investigate the women’s claims and was motivated by its “desire to respond publicly and aggressively to the #MeToo movement…”, according to the complaint.            

A U.S. District court judge dismissed the lawsuit early last year, saying the network’s failure to investigate didn’t amount to malice.

Fairfax, who is running for governor in November, has maintained his innocence, asserting both encounters were consensual. He’s framed the public response to the allegations against him as a modern form of lynching and has accused the media and Democratic establishment of treating him unfairly.

“When as an African American, you have no opportunity to establish that these allegations are not true. And the people involved in pushing that narrative didn’t care whether or not it was true. All they wanted was a political result,” Fairfax said.

There have been no law enforcement investigations into the allegations against Fairfax and Democrats in the General Assembly declined to hold a public hearing to investigate the allegations for fear it would be a politically charged spectacle.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.