Liberty University sues scandal-hit ex-president Jerry Falwell Jr for $10m

University founded by Falwell’s father accuses him of concealing details of scandal involving wife Becki and pool boy from Miami

The prominent evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr is facing a $10m lawsuit from the Christian university founded by his father, and which he served as president until resigning in the wake of a sordid extortion scandal last year.

Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia, claims Falwell hid “potentially damaging” details of the scandal as he negotiated a lucrative new contract for himself with the university’s trustees.

Falwell, whose father, the Rev Jerry Falwell Sr, founded the conservative college in 1971, resigned his position last August after details emerged of the alleged extortion by a pool boy from Miami, who claimed to have had a seven-year affair with Falwell and his wife Becki.

Among the breach-of-contract lawsuit’s other claims, the newspaper said, are that Falwell, 58, a fervent supporter of the former president Donald Trump, failed to disclose or address “his personal impairment by alcohol”.

The legal action against Falwell, who dropped his own defamation lawsuit against Liberty in December, prolongs the already messy aftermath of his departure from the 79,000-student university.

On Wednesday, Scott Lamb, Liberty’s senior vice-president of communications, announced that Trey Falwell, Falwell Jr’s son, had left his job as the university’s vice-president, without providing detail. Politico reported the move as further evidence the university was “seeking aggressively to distance itself from its former president”.

In reply to an email from the Guardian seeking comment on Friday, Lamb said: “The University’s only word on the subject is the lawsuit itself.” Falwell could not be reached for comment.

Liberty’s trustees gathered in Lynchburg this week to discuss a permanent replacement as president – Jerry Prevo, 76, who founded the university with Falwell Sr. It is unclear to what extent the lawsuit was discussed.

The lawsuit alleges that Falwell, in hiding the details of the alleged extortion, breached his fiduciary duties to the university as he negotiated for a higher salary. It claims he also kept university property he was required to return. Falwell was the university’s president from 2007 until his resignation.

In August 2020, Giancarlo Granda, who met Falwell and his wife when he worked at a Miami hotel, revealed what he said was a lengthy sexual affair with the couple. Falwell has claimed the affair was only with his wife.

Falwell “led a scheme to cover up the illicit conduct”, the lawsuit alleges, which it says damaged the university and its reputation and breached the school’s code of conduct.


Richard Luscombe in Miami

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jerry Falwell Jr reportedly resigns from Liberty University
Powerful evangelical Christian leader and close Trump ally blamed ‘pressure from self-righteous people’ after photo scandal

Victoria Bekiempis and agencies

25, Aug, 2020 @5:35 AM

Article image
Jerry Falwell Jr takes leave of absence after unzipped pants photo
President and chancellor of evangelical Liberty University taking ‘indefinite’ leave of absence, school said in a statement

Adam Gabbatt in New York

07, Aug, 2020 @9:29 PM

Article image
Jerry Falwell Jr 'enjoyed watching' his wife have sex, alleged lover says
Giancarlo Granda claims in TV interview that ex-Liberty University president was aware of his relationship with Becki Falwell ‘from day one’

Adam Gabbatt

28, Aug, 2020 @1:50 PM

Article image
Liberty University faces new scrutiny over handling of sexual assault claims
The conservative Christian institution, already rocked by scandal of former president Jerry Falwell, faces claims by dozens of women

Edward Helmore in Lynchburg, Virginia

31, Oct, 2021 @6:00 AM

Remembering Jerry Falwell

A selection from around the web on the late US televangelist.

Simon Jeffery

16, May, 2007 @10:33 AM

Article image
University of Michigan president: 'No place' for anti-Muslim chalk messages
Students raised concerns after washing away pro-Trump, ‘Stop Islam’ chalkings on campus after similar writings found at Emory University and Ann Arbor

Ryan Felton in Michigan

01, Apr, 2016 @6:29 PM

Obituary: The Rev Jerry Falwell

Obituary: Rabid evangelical leader of America's 'moral majority'.

Christopher Reed

17, May, 2007 @7:23 AM

Article image
University professor investigated over 'black privilege' tweet
Tweet from psychology professor Charles Negy sparks condemnation and calls for University of Central Florida to fire him

Jessica Glenza

05, Jun, 2020 @1:12 PM

Article image
Tufts University to remove Sackler name from its buildings
Scientific and medical departments at the Massachusetts school were named after family as Tufts acknowledged it accepted gifts

Joanna Walters in New York

05, Dec, 2019 @10:35 PM

Article image
Philanthropic donors back Nikole Hannah-Jones at Howard University
Backed by $20m in donations, Hannah-Jones will establish Center for Journalism and Democracy at Howard

Lauren Aratani in New York and agencies

07, Jul, 2021 @1:32 PM