On Thursday, Liberty University filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against its former president and chancellor, Jerry Falwell, Jr. Liberty alleges that Falwell violated the terms of his contract, violated his fiduciary duty, and conspired against Liberty. Falwell resigned amid a sex scandal in August 2020. Liberty claims that Falwell has refused to return the institution’s confidential information and property.
The complaint, filed Thursday in Lynchburg Circuit Court, alleges that Falwell crafted a “well-resourced exit strategy” from his role in the form of a 2019 employment agreement while withholding key details about his budding sex scandal from school officials, the Associated Press reported. While it is not illegal for Falwell to negotiate for a better contract, the school claims it is illegal for him to do so while hiding activity that clearly violated his duties as the president and chancellor of Liberty.
“Despite his clear duties as an executive and officer at Liberty, Falwell Jr. chose personal protection,” the lawsuit alleges.
Liberty alleges that Falwell failed to disclose and address “the issue of his personal impairment by alcohol” and has refused to fully return the school’s confidential information and personal property that belonged to the school.
The lawsuit alleges three counts: breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and statutory conspiracy. Liberty is seeking more than $10 million in damages.
Liberty officials turned on Falwell in 2019, painting a picture of corruption under his leadership. Shortly before the sex scandal exploded, Falwell posted a picture of himself apparently drinking alcohol with a young lady — and both of their pants were unzipped. (Students are required to abstain from alcohol on Liberty’s campus and faculty are required to abstain in order to model good behavior.)
His resignation came hours after Reuters published a salacious story about Falwell’s sex life.
“Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on,” Reuters’ Aram Roston reported. “Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987.”
“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda told Reuters. He described the liaisons as frequent — “multiple times a year.” He said he slept with Falwell’s wife at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.
Although the Falwells acknowledged that Granda had an affair with Becki Falwell, Jerry Falwell denied any participation. The couple claimed that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the affair.
In the lawsuit, Liberty claims that Falwell had a “fiduciary duty to disclose Granda’s extortive actions, and to disclose the potential for serious harm to Liberty.” Instead, he “furthered the conspiracy of silence and negotiated a 2019 Employment Agreement that contained a higher salary from Liberty.”
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