Jerry Falwell Jr. unhappy with Liberty University’s ‘public shaming,’ wants lawsuit dismissed

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. | REUTERS/Mike Segar

Disgraced former president and chancellor of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., wants leaders of the evangelical institution founded by his father to stop trying to ruin his reputation and publicly shaming him after resigning in the wake of an explosive sex scandal last summer.

In a response filed last week in Lynchburg Circuit Court to a $40 million breach of contract lawsuit filed against him by the university, Falwell said much of the details included in the lawsuit were part of an attempt to shame him publicly.

“The rehashing of these events and protected defamation of Falwell through litigation serves one mission — ruining Falwell’s reputation through mischaracterization of events and public shaming through out-of-context pictures filed in a public complaint,” Falwell's filing states, according to The Lynchburg News & Advance.

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Falwell argued that the lawsuit focuses on his wife’s personal life while not addressing his “actions as the leader of Liberty.”

Liberty University, one of the largest evangelical Christian universities in the world, announced in August 2020 that it had accepted Falwell’s resignation “effective immediately” after he and his wife, Becki, were implicated in a sex scandal.

Falwell initially admitted that his wife had an affair with former “pool boy” Giancarlo Granda, 29, that lasted several years. Granda allegedly attempted to blackmail the couple. Falwell said he was shocked to learn about his wife’s affair. But Granda contradicted that claim by alleging that he engaged in the affair with Falwell’s knowledge and provided audio he said is evidence to support his claim.

“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda told Reuters.

Granda claimed his liaisons with Becki Falwell were frequent — happening “multiple times per year” — noting that they would meet at hotels in Miami, New York and the Falwells’ home in Virginia.

In a statement on Twitter, Granda further slammed Falwell and his wife as liars. He argued that Falwell abused his position of authority at the Christian university and even sent him a photo of a female Liberty University student exposing herself.

“The Falwells would have you believe that I seduced Becki into an affair without Jerry’s knowledge, and then spent the intervening 7 years trying to extort them. Of course, the truth is, they approached me. She invited me to their hotel room," Granda wrote. "They offered me an equity partnership in a property venture. They brought me on multiple trips and vacations including to their family farm in Virginia. And as recently as last year, participated in video calls where Mrs. Falwell was naked and Jerry was watching."

While the scandal rocked Liberty University and the broader evangelical community, Falwell said in his court filing that he had no duty to tell the university about private matters and that Liberty failed to prove legal elements of the business conspiracy alleged against him.

In the lawsuit against Falwell, Liberty University accused him of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and statutory conspiracy.

“Despite his clear duties as an executive and officer at Liberty, Falwell Jr. chose personal protection,” the university’s lawsuit, cited by The Associated Press, said. “[Falwell had a] fiduciary duty to disclose Granda’s extortive actions, and to disclose the potential for serious harm to Liberty. [Falwell] furthered the conspiracy of silence and negotiated a 2019 Employment Agreement that contained a higher salary from Liberty.”

Falwell said he will walk away with a severance package from Liberty University totaling $10.5 million after his resignation last August.

He told The Washington Post that he would get $2.5 million over 24 months after his resignation in addition to $8 million in retirement benefits per a contract he signed with the university in July 2019.

Falwell also filed a court motion to require Liberty to produce his entire severance package as part of their case, the News & Advance reports.  

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