Liberty University is denying reports that it fired its former spokesperson Scott Lamb because of how the prominent Christian school responded to allegations of mishandling sexual abuse claims.
Lamb has sued the Lynchburg, Virginia-based Christian university, arguing that administrators fired him because he expressed concern over how school officials were handling students' allegations of sexual assault.
In a statement emailed to The Christian Post on Tuesday morning, Liberty University said that it “categorically denies Mr. Lamb's claims that his termination was in any way the result of advice he had given on how the university should respond to the Jane Doe Title IX lawsuit.”
“In reality, Mr. Lamb was terminated-with-cause as a result of a meeting about a recent review of the area under his management,” Liberty added in its statement.
“Lamb's lawsuit is a transparent effort to rebuild his own reputation by shamefully playing on the goodwill of supporters of sexual assault victims. We look forward to addressing his claims in court.”
On Monday, ProPublica published an investigative piece titled, “‘The Liberty Way’: How Liberty University Discourages and Dismisses Students’ Reports of Sexual Assaults.”
The piece included interviews of former Liberty students who detailed experiences in which the university allegedly failed to properly handle allegations of sexual assault and would even threaten accusers.
ProPublica also mentioned how Lamb, Liberty’s former senior vice president of communications, was allegedly fired for expressing concern over how the university was handling the matter.
“Concerns about sexual assault would go up the chain and then die,” Lamb told ProPublica, saying that Liberty would engage in a “conspiracy of silence” over allegations.
In July, 12 unnamed women filed a class-action lawsuit against Liberty, accusing the university of violating Title IX federal anti-discrimination law, specifically failing to properly process sexual assault and harassment allegations.
“Liberty University has intentionally created a campus environment where sexual assaults and rapes are foreseeably more likely to occur than they would in the absence of Liberty’s policies,” stated the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The complaint argued that Liberty created “an unsafe campus environment” by misusing its honor code, known as “The Liberty Way,” which, among other things, forbids extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, or attending events where alcohol is served.
The suit claimed that The Liberty Way fails to clarify if a woman who reports being sexually assaulted will be punished for violating the honor code if she admits to breaking other aspects of the code, like drinking, when she reports an alleged sexual assault.
Regarding the lawsuit and the media attention caused by the ProPublica piece, Liberty President Jerry Prevo issued a statement on Tuesday denying a mishandling of allegations.
Prevo quoted from multiple remarks he had made in the past, both to Liberty staff and students, in which he supported efforts to make sure that complaints were handled properly.
“The Liberty Way should never be misused to cover up wrongdoing. It is also the case that as a Christian university we will remain unwavering in our commitment to cultivating a culture in our Liberty community that honors God’s Word and embraces God’s principles for life,” he added.
“While ‘The Liberty Way’ must never be used to discourage victims from reporting wrongdoing, we also believe that we do not have to choose between embracing our code of conduct as a Christian university and in complying with our legal Title IX obligations.”