Liberty University has filed a lawsuit against its scandal-ridden former president, Jerry Falwell Jr., accusing him of breaching “various fiduciary duties” he contractually owed to the prominent evangelical institution while serving as its president.
Falwell, the son of the university’s beloved founder, became engulfed in controversy last year after reports surfaced alleging his wife, Becki Falwell, had engaged in a years-long affair with a former business partner and pool attendant for the couple — and that Falwell would often watch.
In response, Falwell acknowledged that the affair happened but denied any personal involvement. Instead he claimed that his wife’s paramour, 29-year-old Giancarlo Granda, attempted to extort him and his family by threatening to expose the relationship.
In the lawsuit filed on Thursday in the circuit court in Lynchburg, Virginia, and obtained by Politico, the university argued that Falwell injured the university by withholding damaging information from its board of trustees even while negotiating a favorable new contract in 2019.
Had the university known the “full circumstances of Granda’s extortion of Falwell,” it would not have agreed to renew Falwell’s contract, the lawsuit states.
In the 38-page complaint, the school cites several other scandals with which Falwell was involved in that appear to run counter to its conservative Christian standards of conduct. Examples include Falwell’s decision to party at a Miami-area night club, exercise with two young women, and post a picture on a yacht with his arm around a female friend and his pants unzipped.
The lawsuit also accuses Falwell of failing to disclose “his personal impairment by alcohol, which … led Falwell Jr. to actions and courses of conduct detrimental to the spiritual mission of Liberty.”
As a part of the lawsuit, the university is now seeking more than $10 million in damages, claiming Falwell’s conduct has “induced injury to Liberty’s enrollment, impacted its donor base, disrupted its faculty” and “damaged Liberty’s reputation.”
In a statement to Politco, Liberty University spokesperson, Scott Lamb, said that the “University’s only word on the subject is the lawsuit itself.”
The news outlet tried to reach Falwell for comment, but he reportedly declined, stating, “I haven’t even seen the lawsuit.”