Jerry Falwell Jr .: Liberty University takes legal action against former president

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Jerry Falwell Jr. says he resigned as president of Liberty University



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The college lawsuit alleges that Falwell was dishonest with the executive committee when negotiating an unusually generous severance package, despite knowing a brewing sex scandal would likely get him out at some point. The lawsuit also claims that Falwell breached his fiduciary duty as university president and board member and engaged in a statutory conspiracy to hide an alleged plan to extort Falwell from the university.

Liberty is seeking more than $ 40 million in compensatory and punitive damages “plus any other damage provable at trial,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in state court in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Liberty University spokesman Scott Lamb declined to comment further on the ongoing trial.

CNN has contacted Falwell and a lawyer who has represented him on other legal matters but has yet to receive a response.
In a statement to the New York Times, Mr Falwell said the lawsuit was “full of lies and half-truths” and “yet another attempt to defame and discredit my case, following a series of ‘hard and unnecessary actions’.

Falwell resigned as president of Liberty University last August after a series of scandals and was due to receive $ 10.5 million in severance pay from the school over the next several years.

Falwell sued Liberty University for libel last fall after graduating from Christian school. He subsequently dropped that trial in December.

“I am saddened that the university officials, with whom I have shared so much success and maintained such a positive relationship, drew hasty conclusions about the allegations made against my character, did not properly investigate them,” then damaged my reputation as a result of my forced resignation, ”Falwell said in a statement after filing the libel lawsuit

Controversies

The Liberty University lawsuit says that Falwell has acted against the “spirit” of the university in multiple cases and his alleged scandalous dealings ultimately damaged the school and its reputation. The school is known for its blatantly conservative policies that require students to refrain from “indecent behavior” and drinking alcohol, according to the lawsuit.

Last August, a former hotel pool employee Giancarlo Granda went public with allegations that he and Falwell’s wife Becki had been having sexual affairs for years, sometimes while the chef watched. evangelical.

Falwell acknowledged their affair in a statement at the time, saying, “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something that I was not involved in. He said he had reconciled with his wife and sought professional help. Falwell also said in his statement that Granda attempted to blackmail him and his wife, an accusation that Granda denied.

The university lawsuit claims that instead of disclosing Granda’s alleged extortion attempts at the university, Falwell “carried out a ploy to cover up the unlawful conduct.” “

“Falwell Jr. wanted Liberty to pay him severance and retirement benefits if Granda disclosed Granda’s allegations, and Falwell Jr. thereby knowingly withheld from Liberty material information that would have altered the nature of the 2019 employment contract negotiations.” The lawsuit says.

Granda’s claims were the latest controversy that precipitated a dramatic fall from grace for one of the country’s most important evangelicals.

Jerry Falwell Jr. says he resigned as president of Liberty University

Last June, Falwell apologized after deleting a much-criticized tweet that showed one person with a black face and another with a hood and robe from the Ku Klux Klan.

And later in August, the Liberty University executive committee asked Falwell to take “indefinite leave” after he posted a photo on Instagram that showed him with his pants unzipped and his midsection visible. In the photo, Falwell holds a cup of dark liquid and has an arm around a woman whose shorts are also unzipped.

In a radio interview shortly after, Falwell said the woman was his wife’s assistant and that they were at a costume party. He said the incident “was just a lot of fun,” but added that he should never have posted the photo.

Lawsuit claims Falwell wanted ‘escape hatch’

Falwell, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, wanted a “bailout” for any political and personal fallout when negotiating the employment deal in 2019, according to the lawsuit.

As Trump seeks re-election, chapter ends on Falwell era of religious rightAs Trump seeks re-election, chapter ends on Falwell era of religious right

“Falwell Jr. has asked the Executive Committee to provide him with a safety valve to protect him from such actions, such as raising his profile in 2016 by being the first great evangelical leader to personally endorse Donald Trump for president.” Falwell Jr. claimed he wanted an escape hatch for political and personal fallout, ”the lawsuit says.

Falwell is the son of Rev. Jerry Falwell, who co-founded Liberty University in 1971 and helped found the conservative Moral Majority movement. The eldest Falwell passed away in 2007 and his son succeeded him as president of the university.

His son has significantly raised the profile of the school – and finances – as president.

As chairman, Falwell said he has overseen $ 1 billion in new construction projects, launched e-learning platforms that have boosted registrations and brought football and basketball teams to Liberty in Division 1, the most competitive level in college sports. The school’s endowment increased to $ 1.6 billion in 2020.

CNN’s Daniel Burke contributed to this report.

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