PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas has filed a $20.7-million defamation lawsuit against an attorney who organized a petition for her recall.
In a suit filed Wednesday, it is alleged that Tim Anderson, an attorney based in Virginia Beach, “knew … information he stated involving Lucas was untrue at the time he stated it…” and that “these words harmed Senator Lucas’ reputation, by lowering her in the community’s estimation…”
Lucas (D-Portsmouth), the region’s most senior senator, has been at the center of a controversy over a protest in Portsmouth June 10 that left one man seriously injured after a Confederate soldier statue on the city’s monument was pulled down on top of him. The monument was also spray-painted.
Anderson, along with others, allege Lucas told police to stand down and not arrest any protesters — while she says she was setting ground rules for protesters.
Lucas appeared at the Confederate monument that afternoon — several hours before demonstrators began vandalizing and deconstructing the monument — telling protesters if they were peaceful during the event on city property, they would not be arrested.
“This [monument property] is city — anybody who pays taxes has the right to be on their property,” Lucas could be heard saying in a video on her Facebook page.
However, in the days following the protests, Anderson posted a video to his Facebook page saying he would be gathering signatures for a petition for her recall, saying she incited a riot, a felony in Virginia.
“Senator Lucas told the crowd which turned into a riot, ‘Hey don’t worry about the police, I’m here you can do whatever you want with this statue,'” Anderson said. “That is inciting a riot and we know that because that is what the code section of Virginia says.”
“Not this time. This is a simple case. Attorney Tim Anderson defamed my name and has irreparably damaged my reputation in the community, in the Commonwealth, and in the world. Reaching hundreds of thousands of people through his social media post on his business website and in television interviews, Anderson stated that I committed a felony. That is defamation per se. He stated that my actions had led to the death of a man. His statements were false and he knew them to be false. He made these malicious statements because he wanted to drive business to his law firm and to his gun shop. He made these malicious defamatory statements because I have been fighting successfully for common sense gun violence prevention programs and his gun business would garner attention from his potential customer base by attacking me.”– Sen. L. Louise Lucas
Anderson would not comment on the suit specifically, as he had not seen it at the time WAVY-TV contacted him.
However, again in a video on his Facebook page, he expressed he wasn’t concerned.
As of June 16, Anderson, who has a large following on social media pages and is known for his Second Amendment advocacy, said he has 2,000 names of verified 18th District registered voters who are asking for Lucas’ recall.
Lucas has also called for the firing of police Chief Angela Greene, saying she abdicated her responsibility to maintain peace at the protest. Anderson says Lucas is trying to use the police chief as a scapegoat.
As for the man who was injured by the falling statue at the Portsmouth monument several weeks ago, on July 2 a Sentara spokesperson said Chris Green was still in the hospital and is currently listed in fair condition.