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Rachael Denhollander Decries Liberty U Sex Assault Probe & Quiet Removal of Trustee

By Julie Roys
Rachael Denhollander Liberty University
Abuse survivor advocate, Rachael Denhollander, urges Liberty University to investigate the culture and processes that led to its alleged mishandling of sex abuse cases at a press conference Thursday in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Source: Twitter)

Abuse survivor advocate and attorney, Rachael Denhollander, today is decrying an independent probe into Liberty University’s alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases, which was approved yesterday by Liberty’s trustees.

“I am disappointed and grieved to say that this is not what survivors and advocates actually called for and not what LU needs,” Denhollander tweeted this morning. 

Also, in texts this afternoon with The Roys Report, Denhollander expressed dismay that Liberty quietly removed Steven Snyder from its trustee board, after Snyder was exposed this summer by the podcast, Gangster Capitalism.

Liberty Trustee Snyder
Former Liberty Trustee Steven Snyder

“His removal was very recent and with no investigation or transparency . . .” Denhollander noted in a text.

Snyder, a partner at Davis and Snyder, P.A., in Greenville, South Carolina, was supposed to serve on Liberty’s board until November 8, 2022, when his term expired. However, Snyder is no longer listed as a trustee.

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In July, a Gangster Capitalism podcast placed Snyder at a bawdy, booze-filled dinner in 2020 with former Liberty president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and his wife, Becki.

The dinner took place at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. And according to Corilynn Bailey, founder of the Be Fearlesss You Foundation, alcohol was “flowing” at the dinner. And Bailey says Falwell not only tried to hug and kiss her from behind, but also stuck his face into another woman’s “boobs” while those watching “all laughed about it.”

The Roys Report reached out to Liberty President Jerry Prevo, a university spokesman, and Snyder for comment, but no one responded.

Issues with probe

Facing pressure from advocates for sex abuse survivors who say Liberty University mishandled their cases, Liberty on Friday appeared to concede to the advocates’ request for an independent investigation.

Last year, Liberty had announced another independent investigation. But advocates complained that investigation was far too narrow and looked only at the university’s business practices and not the allegations surrounding its mishandling of Title IX violations and the alleged sexual misconduct of Jerry and Becki Falwell.

In a statement on its website Friday, Liberty announced that its board had “voted unanimously to have an independent and comprehensive review of its Title IX policies and processes, including recommendations for improvement with best practices . . .”

The statement added that the board had authorized Liberty President Jerry Prevo to hire a third party “to independently assess the facts necessary for Liberty University to make things right with the Jane Doe Title IX plaintiffs, regardless of how long it has been.”

Board Chairman Tim Lee stated, “The whole world knows that the last year has been challenging for Liberty University. What they may not know is that these challenges are only making us stronger. This has become a banner year for Liberty University.”

But today, Denhollander detailed a long list of problems with Liberty’s proposed plan.

“While a Title IX review is not a bad step, most of the allegations and concerns do not relate to technical Title IX policy violations . . .” Denhollander tweeted.

Instead, Denhollander said the “actual concerns and allegations” center on eight things, including “a culture that silences survivors” and “punishes whistleblowers”; “Poor responses by faculty and leadership”;  and a “Board which utterly failed to stop and then hold accountable the former president and his wife for sexually inappropriate (and at least in the case of his wife, clearly predatory) behavior, including WITH LU students.”

According to an article in Politico in 2020, Becki Falwell performed a sex act on a student who stayed over at the Falwell home in 2008.

Similarly, The Roys Report noted in a 2020 article that Jerry Falwell Jr. had a pattern of “liking” pictures of bikini-clad students on Instagram. Falwell also appeared in a bizarre exercise video, doing pelvic thrusts on a bar holding two Liberty coeds.

“The question is how all these things could happen w/o Board and leadership knowledge, especially since at least on(e) board member attended questionable parties and events with the former pres,” Denhollander tweeted.

Also critical of the review approved by Liberty University is campus safety expert, S. Daniel Carter.

S. Daniel Carter
S. Daniel Carter

In an email to The Roys Report yesterday, Carter wrote, “No such review could possibly be sufficient to address the spiraling allegations made in litigation and that have been reported in various media over the last couple of weeks. The U.S. Department of Education needs to conduct reviews under both Title IX and the Clery Act to address serious allegations of violations of these laws, and if proven to impose significant penalties.”

One of the Jane Does in the lawsuit against Liberty told The Roys Report today that she, and potentially other Jane Does, are working with Carter to petition the Department of Education to investigate their cases.



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2 Responses

  1. This article speaks to advocacy on issues and critiquing of LU practices and responses; taking on a good and strong shape.

  2. Julie, thanks for continuing to cover this saga. Is it only my observation, or does nearly every reply from both Liberty University and the Southern Baptist Convention to their respective critics include scope limitations? This “lawyered-up” approach suggests that both organizations have additional unflattering details to hide. It leaves victims frustrated and doesn’t help the institutions, either.

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