News and Commentary

Report: Liberty University Sues Jerry Falwell, Jr.
The President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr., speaks on the last day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. / AFP / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Liberty University filed a civil lawsuit against its former president, Jerry Falwell Jr., in Lynchburg Circuit Court on Thursday, seeking millions of dollars in damages after the former leader was ousted from his position following a personal scandal last year.

As reported by The Associated Press, the complaint alleges that Falwell created a “well-resourced exit strategy” from his position as president and chancellor of Liberty University through a 2019 employment agreement as he kept important information about a scandal in his personal life from the school.

“Despite his clear duties as an executive and officer at Liberty, Falwell Jr. chose personal protection,” the lawsuit says.

It also states that Falwell did not share and address “the issue of his personal impairment by alcohol” and also has not entirely returned Liberty’s confidential information and other personal property, per the AP.

The New York Times reported:

The suit says Falwell “improperly and errantly” told the press he was owed $10.5 million after his departure in August. His severance should have been $2.5 million, or two years’ salary under the higher salary he negotiated in 2019, the suit claims. “Liberty was unsure if Falwell Jr.’s representation to the media was just puffery and bragging or some attempt to set up a claim for additional compensation,” the suit says.

Falwell left Liberty University in August 2020 shortly after a business partner of the family, Giancarlo Granda, came forward and said that he had an affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and added that Falwell himself was involved. While the Falwells acknowledged that an affair had taken place between Granda and Becki, Jerry Falwell said that he never participated.

In August of last year, The Daily Wire reported:

Giancarlo Granda, 29, told Reuters that his alleged relationship with Falwell and his wife, Becki, began when he was just 20, when he met them while working as a pool boy at Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in 2012. Granda said the trysts, which he claims involved Falwell watching as he had sex with his wife, continued until 2018. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” he said.

Granda reportedly provided Reuters with evidence of the affair, which he said involved the trio getting together “multiple times per year.” Looking back, he also claimed the Falwells’ treatment of him was predatory, saying, “Whether it was immaturity, naïveté, instability, or a combination thereof, it was this ‘mindset’ that the Falwells likely detected in deciding that I was the ideal target for their sexual escapades.” 

The school’s lawsuit states that Falwell had a “fiduciary duty to disclose Granda’s extortive actions, and to disclose the potential for serious harm to Liberty.”

Instead of disclosing this information, Falwell “furthered the conspiracy of silence and negotiated a 2019 Employment Agreement that contained a higher salary from Liberty,” the suit says.

The lawsuit alleges three counts including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and statutory conspiracy. It is seeking over $10 million in damages.

Last year, Jerry Falwell Jr. brought his own defamation lawsuit against Liberty University, claiming that the school was convinced by anti-Trump organizations like the Lincoln Project to push him out of his position.

The Daily Wire reported at the time:

“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said, as reported by Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard. “I am saddened that University officials, with whom I have shared so much success and enjoyed such positive relationships, jumped to conclusions about the claims made against my character, failed to properly investigate them, and then damaged my reputation following my forced resignation.”

Falwell later dropped his lawsuit and asked a judge in Lynchburg, Virginia, to dismiss the case, as reported by The Daily Wire.

The Associated Press reported that Falwell responded to a phone call from the outlet with a text on Friday saying he was not available to talk. The outlet also left a message seeking comment with an attorney who has represented him previously, but reported it is unclear if he has an attorney representing him on this issue.

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