Jerry Falwell Jr sues Liberty University following resignation for ‘damage to his reputation’

Former president stepped down in August amidst sex scandal

Louise Hall
Thursday 29 October 2020 17:01 GMT
Close relationship between Trump and Liberty University leader Jerry Falwell Jr described in 2017 interview

Jerry Falwell Jr, one of the country’s highest-profile evangelical Christians and a supporter of Donald Trump, has announced that he is suing Liberty University following his resignation as the schools president.

The attorney announced that he would step down as the president of the high profile private Christian university in August following pressure to step down amidst a number of personal scandals.

It has now emerged that Mr Falwell has filed a complaint against the university, which was founded by his father, in state court in Lynchburg, Virginia, alleging that they “damaged his reputation”, NBC News reported. 

"We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so," Falwell's lawyer Robert Raskopf said in a statement.

"Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr Falwell's ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court."

In a statement, Mr Falwell's lawyers alleged that their client is being targeted by individuals who appear “to be supported financially by political opponents of Mr Falwell in the midst of a heated presidential campaign."

They did not offer any specific evidence to support the claim in the statement on Thursday.

The complaint reportedly alleges that Liberty University officials accepted the false claims against Mr Falwell without investigation to force his resignation.

Liberty University did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

The evangelist's resignation came after a man named Giancarlo Granda went public with claims that he was involved in a years-long sexual relationship involving both Mr Falwell and his wife.

Mr Granda, who met the couple while working as a pool attendant in Miami, told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Mr Falwell looked on.

Before the publication of Reuters' report a lawyer for Jerry Falwell, Michael Bowe, said he “categorically denies everything you indicated you intend to publish about him.”

Mr Falwell released a statement to The Washington Examiner prior to the allegations acknowledging that his wife had an affair with an "ambitious young man" but he stipulated that he was “not involved” in the affair.

The former president alleged that his wife’s ex-lover had continually tried to blackmail his family following the affair with his wife, an accusation which Mr Granada has categorically denied.

Mr Granda told The Examiner: “any allegation of extortion is falsely, defamatory and belied by clear documentary evidence.

At the time, Mr Fallwell had already undertaken an indefinite leave of absence from the university after he was forced to apologise for a photograph he posted on social media with his trousers unzipped and his shirt pulled up over his stomach.

Mr Falwell, who has held positions at the university since 2007 told WLNI that the woman in the photo was pregnant and he was wearing jeans that did not fit. He apologised for posting the image.

Alumni and others criticised Mr Falwell, saying the photo was evidence of hypocritical behaviour from the leader of a university where students must follow a strict code of conduct.

The resignation came as a severe blow for one of the country’s most visible conservative Christian leaders and ardent Trump supporters, ending back-to-back Falwell leadership at the university.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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