RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore made his first public comments Tuesday after a local elected official announced a lawsuit against him alleging the powerful Republican ruined his marriage by having an affair with his wife.
Attorneys for Scott Lassiter claim that for more than three years, Moore "willfully interfered in the marital relationship" between Lassiter and his wife, who leads an agency within the state courts system.
In a television interview on Tuesday, Moore acknowledged having a "casual" relationship with her but rejected other legal claims filed against him as "absolutely 100% false." Moore, who has been elected to five terms in the job since 2015, is the state's longest-serving House speaker.
Moore told WBTV that "the allegation that I had a relationship with Mrs. Lassiter ... I've admitted that that's true but I thought it was appropriate because she was separated and I'm divorced but ... all the salacious stuff that people are talking about (is) absolutely 100% false."
Lassiter is seeking at least $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against Moore and another unidentified man whom Lassiter said conspired with Moore in recent weeks to install a camera outside Lassiter's suburban Raleigh home.
Moore "used his position as one of the most powerful elected officials in North Carolina to entice Plaintiff's wife ... to participate in an illicit relationship with him," according to the lawsuit filed during the weekend in Wake County Superior Court.
Lassiter's lawsuit alleges that his wife, Jamie Liles Lassiter, wouldn't end her relationship with Moore for fear of losing her job -- leading to their separation in January after more than nine years of marriage.
In a statement, Moore said it was "a baseless lawsuit from a troubled individual. We will vigorously defend this action and pursue all available legal remedies."
Jamie Lassiter is the executive director of the North Carolina Conference of Clerks of the Superior Court. She called the lawsuit "outrageous and defamatory" and said her husband is "lashing out" at the end of their divorce proceedings.
"The claims are not only false but impossible as we've been separated with a signed separation document for years," she said in a news release from her attorney. "I'm a strong professional woman, and the only person who has ever abused me or threatened my career was my soon-to-be ex-husband."
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that still allow lawsuits by jilted spouses seeking damages from a cheating spouse's lover under claims of alienation of affection and criminal conversation - also known as adultery. These and other claims are in Lassiter's lawsuit, which alleged Moore "willfully pursued a sexual relationship" and "with reckless disregard of the destruction he was causing" to the marriage.
Lassiter, an assistant principal in the Wake County school system, is a former Apex town council member and a current elected member of the little-known county soil and water conservation board. The Republican ran briefly for a state House seat last year before he suspended his campaign when districts were redrawn.
"The complaint speaks for itself," Lassiter attorney Alicia Jurney wrote in an email Monday in response to comments from Lassiter's wife and Moore's attorney. "There is irrefutable evidence to support Mr. Lassiter's claims."
As for the unnamed man the lawsuit alleges conspired with Moore, the speaker replied: "Did not hire anyone. Don't know who the man is."
The N.C. Conference of Clerks of Superior Court is designed to help the elected clerks in all 100 counties carry out their duties.
Moore is himself a lawyer and has represented a region just west of Charlotte for 20 years. He wasn't at the dais on the House floor when the chamber held an administrative session Tuesday morning.
The General Assembly is in the anticipated final weeks of its chief annual work session. Moore told the station that he has addressed the lawsuit allegations "head-on" with fellow House Republicans and won't let the litigation prevent him from conducting his job to lead the chamber.
The Associated Press contributed.