Jerry Falwell Jr. Files Suit Against Liberty University Claiming Reputational Damage

By | October 30, 2020

The former president and chancellor of Liberty University (LU), Jerry Falwell Jr., is suing the school for reputational damage following his August resignation, according to a complaint filed in the Commonwealth of Virginia Circuit Court for the City of Lynchburg.

The complaint alleges that LU leaders did not investigate lies about Falwell Jr., leading to his forced resignation after he served for 13 years as the university’s president. It also claims the university subsequently engaged in a campaign to damage his reputation and family legacy.

LU is a Lynchburg, Va.-based private evangelical Christian university founded by Falwell Jr.’s father, Dr. Jerry Falwell.

Falwell Jr. confirmed on August 25 that he had resigned as LU president, a role he had held since 2007, following a sex scandal. This came after Reuters reported on the scandal, which purportedly involved a sexual relationship between Falwell Jr.’s wife and a former business associate.

In this March 24, 2020 file photo, a sign marks the entrance to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Jerry Falwell Jr. said Tuesday, Aug. 25, that he has resigned as head of evangelical Liberty University because of ongoing controversies about his wife’s sexual involvement with a younger business partner. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In his complaint, Falwell Jr. claims LU damaged his reputation through a series of statements published in print, spoken in large public forums and streamed online after he was forced to resign from the university. The statements served to affirm false claims made publicly against Falwell Jr. by an individual who had engaged in years-long attempts at extortion against Falwell Jr. and his wife, Becki, the complaint says.

A press release issued by Quinn Emanuel Trial Lawyers alleges that based on research and investigation, the individual who made the claims appears to be supported financially by political opponents of Falwell Jr. in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, likely including anti-Trump political action committee, The Lincoln Project. Robert Raskopf of Quinn Emanuel is serving as the lead counsel representing Falwell Jr. in the case.

“We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so,” Raskopf said in the release. “Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court.”

Falwell Jr.’s complaint against LU includes defamation and breach of contract claims.

“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell Jr. said in the release. “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. 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.”

Raskopf and an LU spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About Elizabeth Blosfield

Elizabeth Blosfield is the East region editor for Insurance Journal. She can be reached at eblosfield@wellsmedia.com. More from Elizabeth Blosfield

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