Claiming it Damaged His Reputation, Jerry Falwell Jr. Sues Liberty University

Jerry Falwell, Jr., the former president of Liberty University, is suing the school he once led claiming it has damaged his reputation.

The complaint he filed Thursday in Virginia state court in Lynchburg alleges defamation and breach of contract and accuses university officials of accepting false claims against Falwell without investigation to force his resignation. It also claims that the school engaged in a campaign to “tarnish, minimize, and outright destroy the legacy of the Falwell family and Mr. Falwell’s reputation.” The complaint says the evangelical university “needlessly injured and damaged his reputation through a series of statements, published in print and spoken in large public forums and streamed online, following his forced resignation from the University.”

Falwell resigned in August, with a $10.5 million severance package, amid a swirl of personal scandals. Early in the month he was suspended with pay after posting — and then deleting — a controversial photo on social media. It shows Falwell with his pants unzipped, belly showing, part of his beard painted and his arm around a young woman.

He tried to explain the picture during an interview with a Lynchburg radio station, saying, “Yeah, it was weird. She’s pregnant. She couldn’t get her pants zipped and I was like trying to like… I had on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time and couldn’t get zipped either. So, I just put my belly out like hers. She’s my wife’s assistant she’s a sweetheart. I should have never put it up and embarrassed her. I’ve apologized to everybody. I promised my kids I will try to be a good boy from here on out.”

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Later in August news reports surfaced alleging that he and his wife, Becki, had engaged in an extramarital affair with a former business partner and family friend. Giancarlo Granda said he had a years-long sexual relationship with the couple that involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

In his filing Falwell alleges that Granda attempted to extort him for years and is “supported financially by political opponents of Mr. Falwell in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, likely including the anti-Trump political action committee called The Lincoln Project.”

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