Liberty University scandal Jerry Falwell
Image: Flickr / Taber Andrew Bain

Liberty University sues ex-president Jerry Falwell Jr.

Liberty University is suing its former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for millions of dollars.

The institution is accusing the prominent evangelist of withholding damaging personal information from school officials, while negotiating a lucrative employment agreement for himself, among other allegations.

In response, Falwell tweeted: “This lawsuit is full of lies and half truths, and I assure you that I will defend myself vigorously.”

Falwell resigned as president of Liberty University last August following a series of personal scandals, including alleged extortion by a hotel employee in Miami, Giancarlo Granda, who claimed to have had a two-year affair with Falwell’s wife Becki and Falwell. Falwell has claimed the affair was only with his wife.

The couple reportedly spent five years working to appease Granda after he threatened to expose the affair to embarrass the Falwells and the Christian institution.

The complaint reads: “Falwell Jr. and Granda both knew that matters of infidelity, immodesty and acceptance of a loose lifestyle would stand in stark contrast to the conduct expected of leaders at Liberty.”

Falwell was due to receive a $10.5 million severance package from the institution over the next few years.

The lawsuit alleges the ex-president was dishonest with the executive committee when negotiating this package, claiming he hid “potentially damaging” details of the scandal.

This lawsuit is full of lies and half truths, and I assure you that I will defend myself vigorously

– Jerry Falwell

The lawsuit also alleges that Falwell failed to disclose or address “his personal impairment by alcohol”, and that this led to “actions and courses detrimental to the spiritual mission of Liberty”.

Liberty is also alleging breach of contract, saying Falwell consistently refused to use his university-provided email address for business communications, but did require the university to provide him with devices such as computers and phones.

In a 74-page complaint, Liberty offered three motivations behind the lawsuit: to recover university property, redress breaches of various fiduciary duties during Falwell’s tenure, and recover damages for violations of Virginia’s conspiracy statute.

The institution is seeking more than $10 million in damages.

In response to the lawsuit, Falwell tweeted: “The Exec Comm of the LU Board has made yet another attempt to defame me and discredit my record following a series of harsh and unnecessary actions against my children, Becki, and me. Throughout all my years at the University, where we built a multi-billion-dollar enterprise I always abided by the requirements that applied to everyone on the University staff.

“This lawsuit is full of lies and half truths, and I assure you that I will defend myself vigorously. My wife and I were banned from the campus my Dad and I built last week and where my parents are buried. We were threatened with arrest if we walk on campus. My son was told he was being fired after yrs of service for no reason other than I was a public figure.

“A big power grab to rule LU and $2 billion endowment I built.”

A spokesperson for Liberty said: “The university’s only word on the subject is the lawsuit itself.”

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