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

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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.”

Fairfax told 8News on Thursday that the accusations made by Dr. Tyson were a “political hit job” involving Stoney.

The 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:

“The Amended Complaint demonstrates that CBS had access to information both before and after publication indicating that the suspiciously-timed accusations made against Fairfax were false, but instead decided to burnish its #MeToo credentials in light of recent, high-profile sexual assault and harassment accusations against key figures at CBS. It is clear that CBS found, and continues to find, its agenda more important than reporting the truth.”

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.

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.”

On Thursday, 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.

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.

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