Tags: liberty university | jerry falwell | lawsuit | defamation

Jerry Falwell Jr. Sues Liberty University for Defamation

Jerry Falwell Jr. Sues Liberty University for Defamation
(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Thursday, 29 October 2020 10:28 AM

Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president of Liberty University, accused the conservative Christian school of defaming him by affirming lies intended to undermine him as a high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump during an election year.

Falwell, 58, stepped down from leadership of the school in August amid a scandal involving him, his wife and a man they met in 2012. In his suit, Falwell claims the university should have conducted own investigation before taking action to “tarnish, minimize, and outright destroy the legacy” of him and his family, according to a statement Thursday.

The suit, alleging defamation and breach of contract, was filed Wednesday in state court in Lynchburg, Virginia. It seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring the school from further defaming Falwell.

Liberty University, which calls itself the world’s largest Christian university, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Falwell, whose father Jerry Falwell Sr. founded the school, was placed on leave not long after he posted online an embarrassing photo of himself with a woman who wasn’t his wife and with his pants unzipped. The school later sought and received his resignation after a former pool attendant at a Miami hotel frequented by Falwell and his wife Becki came forth with allegations of a personal and business relationship with the couple.

In an Aug. 31 statement, Liberty said it was “committed to learning the consequences that have flowed from a lack of spiritual stewardship by our former president” and would be hiring a forensic firm to thoroughly investigate Falwell’s dealings for possible misconduct.

The university’s alleged actions had the effect of “affirming false claims that an individual made publicly against Mr. Falwell after years-long attempts” at using the claims privately against Falwell and his wife, according to the suit. He admits his wife had a brief affair with the individual in 2014.

“Based on research and investigation, this individual appears to be supported financially by political opponents of Mr. Falwell in the midst of a heated presidential campaign,” Falwell said in his statement.

Falwell has long been a backer of Trump, who spoke to the university graduating class in 2017 and has wide support from evangelical Christians.

“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 said in the statement.

The school has a $1.6 billion endowment, along with with 15,000 students in residence and more than 100,000 who study online, according to the complaint.

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Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president of Liberty University, accused the conservative Christian school of defaming him by affirming lies intended to undermine him as a high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump during an election year.
liberty university, jerry falwell, lawsuit, defamation
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2020-28-29
Thursday, 29 October 2020 10:28 AM
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