Former Liberty University President and Chancellor, Jerry Fallwell, Jr., today filed a lawsuit against Liberty, alleging that the evangelical school “set out to destroy Mr. Falwell’s reputation” following Falwell’s resignation.
The lawsuit was filed in the Commonwealth of Virginia Circuit Court for the City of Lynchburg. It seeks damages for acts of defamation and breach of an employment agreement, which Falwell claims included a non-disparagement clause.
The lawsuit states that Falwell and his family were “targets of a malicious smear campaign incited by anti-evangelical forces.” These forces allegedly included a former family friend of the Falwell’s, Giancarlo Granda, whom Falwell claims was trying to extort him following an affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell.
The lawsuit alleges that Granda also conspired with The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee, to defame Falwell, as well as Aaron Resnick, a “politically prominent lawyer.”
It accuses Liberty of accepting Granda’s “lies” with “zero investigation” and alleges that the school “willfully ignored information demonstrating their falsity.”
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Falwell resigned from the school founded by his father in August, after a series of controversies. These included allegations by Granda that Falwell had been a participant in Granda’s long-standing sexual relationship with Becki Falwell. The Falwells admit the affair with Becki, but deny that Jerry Falwell was involved.
Falwell also had been placed on leave earlier in the summer after posting a controversial photo on social media, showing himself with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman identified as Becki Falwell’s assistant, who posed with a bare midriff.
At the time of his resignation, Liberty’s board said “it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President.” Falwell said at the time that Liberty gave him a severance package worth $10.5 million.
In a press release Thursday, Falwell’s lawyer, Robert Raskopf, said Falwell decided to file the lawsuit after failing to resolve his issues with Liberty’s board.
“We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so,” Raskopf said. “Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court.”
Falwell said in the statement that he would restore his reputation and “repair damage to the Liberty University brand.”
“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said in the news release.
After his departure, Falwell told a Virginia newspaper that he was relieved to leave Liberty and he quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.’”
“I’ve done all I can do at Liberty and I’m ready to move on to something else,” he told the News Advance. “This happened for a reason and the board treated me very, very generously and I am very grateful for that.”
A spokesman for Liberty said the school’s trustees were busy meeting this week and had not yet seen the lawsuit.
Bob Smietana of Religion News Service contributed to this report.
26 thoughts on “Jerry Falwell Jr. Sues Liberty University for Defamation”
Dear Mr. Falwell… the photos, videos, etc. all speak for themselves. You sir, ruined your own “reputation”. Above all, You grieved the Spirit of our God when you take absolutely no responsibility whatsoever. No confession-no repentance. it literally scares me when I mess up – knowing My Lord, Who, even “slow” in anger must “chastise” His children – all who become reckless in our walk. And take it from me sir-it can be painful. You may not feel God’s wrath now, ..it’s surely coming.
Yes, he ruined his own reputation. What was hidden inside became seen on the outside from many angles.
Is he using his large severance money now to sue the school? On my!
Of course he has. There was never a chance in the world that he would just walk away with his money.
Didn’t the University pay this guy millions of dollars severance to just go away?
THAT is the crazy part!
Falwell at this point is his own worst enemy. The more he acts the more vengeful and foolish he seems. At this point I actually feel sorry for him. He cant take consequences!!!
There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Let me try to wrap my head around this…suing *others* after he destroyed his reputation *himself*?
Wow. Just like JMac!
What’s wrong with this picture? He ruined the reputation of Liberty University, his wife had an ongoing affair, multiple indiscretions that have been all over social media, and then he gets a $10 million bonus. But no! He chooses to sue the university. What a disgrace. This sickens me.
Are his kids still working there?
There is a saying “Wealth demands respect” Now that the Board has given him a king’s ransom, he wants them to give him more money. Secular civil lawsuits are not about repenting or apologizing but about money which is what Falwell is all about too.
Jesus says in Luke 6:43-45 “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit.
Behold Falwell’s fruit. What I don’t get is this; How come Jerry Falwell senior never saw this? Was he blind too?
I am confused. Assuming that any lawsuit is even justified, should it not be the other way around? Should not Liberty be suing Jerry Falwell for having damaged the reputation of Liberty University?
Only one of these two parties still has an axe to grind…
I wouldn’t be surprised if Liberty counter sues …
He may just get away with it and get more money…
After the way James MacDonald walked away with so much of Harvest’s money. James should be doing time in prison with other staff from Harvest, instead he and his family are posing in angelic white garbs for their latest newsletter to WITW donors.
And don’t think James hasn’t talked to Jerry fawell Jr. They are buddies.
My son attended Harvest Christian Academy and there was such a big push for students to go to Liberty.
Wonder why? More Money.
This is not about the money. Liberty has already put him in the top 0.01% of all Americans wealthwise. This is about regaining the prestige and power he lost when he was pushed out. He’ll settle for a sealed settlement he can wave around in public, claiming full exoneration (regardless of the truth), and fast tracking him back among the power and political elites of conservative Christianity.
Having millions of people hanging on every word of your Tweets is every bit as intoxicating as the money that comes with it.
It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer suing his victims for food poisoning. I’m pretty sure any defamation was the other way around.
Oh that is funny!
Classic move for a grandiose narcissist. Let him waste his ill-gotten gain as he causes additional problems for his old board which is packed full of people who are members of the dark triad of personality disorders, of whom Falwell is certainly also a member. You cannot serve God and Big Money. You will love one and despise the other. Whom he loves is self-evident.
“repair damage to the Liberty University brand”
What about the cause of Christ, and testimony of the school? We as evangelicals need to dispense with the whole “branding” thing, a secular concept that does little to spread the gospel.
Just as parents spoil their kids to the core, immature and selfish children continue to disrespect and ask for more. We find this pattern in Falwell, MacDonald, Hybels and others. Even though they have fleeced millions of dollars and assets; it is still not enough. This should be a warning to Boards and Trustees not to succumb to the leaders’ magnetic personality and entitle them carte blanche at their whim. Falwell is a weak man that his wife pursue an adulterous relationship, himself flirting with young co-eds and now suing the Christian university that his father founded. The poster boy of a false believer on Facebook for all to see.
‘We find this pattern……’
Agree 1000 percent.
If this goes anywhere, I fear it could further weaken leaders and boards from taking needed disciplinary action. The Body of Christ continually suffers neglect and their leader’s shame AND at their own financial costs! Meanwhile, individuals & institutions battle legally to protect their own image. Perhaps it’s time for the constituents to sue the boards for their neglect and failures. But it seems like they may be too Christ-like to do it.
I believe it’s time to leave the dysfunction of these places who are “too big to fail” and find something with more purity -something you sow into with confidence. In order to do this, we must sacrifice some of the convenient comforts the institutions provide. Ok, then… Let the revelation and revolution begin! Onward to biblical Christianity! 😊
the guy has no shame, if he had a conscience he would apologize and then just retire quietly
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