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Liberty University sues former leader Jerry Falwell Jr., seeking millions in damages

In the suit, the evangelical university alleges Falwell had a "well-resourced exit strategy" that failed to disclose a potentially damaging affair.

Updated: April 16, 2021 - 2:46pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Liberty University has filed a civil lawsuit against Jerry Falwell Jr., seeking millions in damages with the argument the school’s former leader crafted a "well-resourced exit strategy" without disclosing key details about a personal scandal that was potentially damaging to him and the school. 

The complaint was filed Thursday in the Lynchburg Circuit Court, in Virginia, according to the Associated Press

"Despite his clear duties as an executive and officer at Liberty, Falwell Jr. chose personal protection," states the lawsuit, referring to a 2019 employment agreement in which Falwell, the school’s former chancellor and president, didn’t disclose details about an affair his wife had with a family business partner and about which he knew.  

The suit also alleges Falwell failed to disclose and address "the issue of his personal impairment by alcohol” and has refused to fully return Liberty’s confidential information and other personal property.

Falwell responded to a phone call Friday from The Associated Press with a text saying he was not available to talk.

Falwell resigned under pressure from the evangelical university in August 2020, after Giancarlo Granda, a younger business partner of the Falwell family, said he had a years-long sexual relationship with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur.

The Falwells acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, but Jerry Falwell denied any participation. The couple alleged that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the relationship.

The lawsuit states that Falwell had a "fiduciary duty to disclose Granda’s extortive actions, and to disclose the potential for serious harm to Liberty."

The suit alleges three counts – breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and statutory conspiracy – and seeks over $10 million in damages, the wire service also reports.