Liberty University has filed a lawsuit against its former president, Jerry Falwell Jr., seeking tens of millions in damages for what it claims was his failure to disclose information that was relevant to his employment at one of the country’s largest Christian universities. Falwell, who is the son of the founder of Liberty University, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., resigned from his position in August 2020, amid a sex scandal. The university in Lynchburg, Va. claims its former president withheld information about the scandal while he was negotiating an employment contract in 2019. The lawsuit also claims that Falwell failed to disclose his problems with alcohol and has not returned property belonging to the university since his resignation.
Falwell strongly pushed back against the lawsuit, saying that it was full of “lies and half truths,” characterizing the legal filing as a way to defame him. “I have serious questions about why the LU Executive Committee has acted with haste and hostility towards me since last August despite the fact that I never violated any University rules that applied to staff,” Falwell said in a statement. “The record, including the financial audit, will show that throughout my presidency I always acted with integrity.”
Falwell tweeted a link to a news story about the lawsuit and complained that “the university I built has simply gone off the rails!” Falwell had sued Liberty for defamation in October but later dropped the case in December.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a scandal that engulfed the Christian university last year. Falwell took an indefinite leave of absence in August of last year after he posted a photograph to his Instagram account with his arm around a pregnant woman with a bare midriff at a party on a yacht. Shortly thereafter, there were reports that a former pool attendant who had an affair with Falwell’s wife had been extorting the couple for money. The university claims Falwell knew full well news of the affair could come to light, which is why he “began to fashion a well-resourced exit strategy.” He also allegedly began to drink heavily as a way to manage his fear that news of the affair would become public
Liberty University claims Falwell breached his contract as well as his fiduciary duties to the school. It also alleges statutory conspiracy. The university is seeking $10 million for the breach of fiduciary duty and $10 million in compensatory damages on the conspiracy charge and claims that should be tripled as allowed under state law. After Falwell’s resignation, Liberty University said it would carry out an independent investigation but it has yet to release any information on the probe.