Jerry Falwell Jr., the disgraced and ousted former chancellor and president of Liberty University, is suing his former employer on the grounds that its public statements in August about several scandals, including his alleged semi-involvement in his wife’s dalliance with a pool boy, damaged his reputation.
“When Mr. Falwell and his family became the targets of a malicious smear campaign incited by anti-evangelical forces, Liberty University not only accepted the salacious and baseless accusations against the Falwells at face value, but directly participated in the defamation,” said the lawsuit, filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court and obtained by the Associated Press. “This action seeks redress for the damage Liberty has caused to the reputation of Mr. Falwell and his family.”
The lawsuit also states that “Liberty’s actions are antithetical to the teachings of Christ,” AP said.
“We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so,” Falwell attorney Robert Raskopf of Quinn Emanuel said in a statement announcing the suit. “Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court.”
The allegations stem from the August ouster of Falwell, son of evangelical leader and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell Sr., after a compromising photo that he said was taken in jest, plus a claim that Falwell Jr. had watched his wife have sex with another man.
Falwell resigned in August after a news story in which pool maintenance worker Giancarlo Granda, 29, said he’d had a six-year affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that her husband liked to watch.
Jerry denied the latter claim and said it was based on the paramour’s attempt to blackmail the couple. He acknowledged that the affair had happened but said he and his wife had worked things out.
Soon after Falwell’s resignation, Liberty announced it would thoroughly investigate everything that happened during his tenure, right down to the finances, looking at “all facets of Liberty University operations during Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tenure as President, including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters.”
It has since hired the global forensic accounting firm Baker Tilly US and launched a website for reporting misconduct, the university announced Oct. 20.
“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 his statement. “While I have nothing but love and appreciation for the Liberty community, and I had hoped to avoid litigation, I must take the necessary steps to restore my reputation and hopefully help repair the damage to the Liberty University brand in the process.”
The university told AP that it had not yet been served with the lawsuit but would issue a response later Thursday.
With News Wire Services
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