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Politics Jerry Falwell, Jr. sues Liberty University

21:25  29 october  2020
21:25  29 october  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Jerry Falwell, Jr. has sued Liberty University, the evangelical school co-founded by his father that he led for more than a decade before resigning in August after a series of personal scandals.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. wearing a suit and tie: Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. addresses students in 2015 during a convocation on the campus in Lynchburg, Va. © Matt McClain/The Washington Post Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. addresses students in 2015 during a convocation on the campus in Lynchburg, Va.

Falwell claims that Liberty damaged his reputation, alleging the university affirmed what he called false statements made by a man who attempted to extort Falwell and his wife, according to the complaint.

“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said in a news release Thursday from a law firm representing him. “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.”

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Falwell’s departure in August generated shock waves because of his stature in parts of the evangelical world. Liberty has long been a power center for conservative Christians, and Falwell’s endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was seen as a pivotal moment for the candidate, one of the earliest signs of support from a prominent evangelical leader.

Scott Lamb, a spokesman for the university, said Liberty trustees have not yet been served with a lawsuit and that he would not comment until they were.

Falwell and his attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. But in the news release, attorney Robert L. Raskopf said they had tried unsuccessfully to meet with the executive committee of the school’s board of trustees before filing the suit.

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Jerry Falwell Jr. resigns as head of Liberty University, will get $10.5 million in compensation

Falwell, a lawyer and developer, had been admired by many at Liberty for helping to transform a small college mired in debt into a booming 85,000-student university with political clout, a Division 1 football team and a beautiful campus.

But he generated controversies as well over the years, for comments and actions criticized as racist or anti-Muslim, and some students and alumni worried the school had weakened its commitment to Christian values.

In August, Falwell was suspended with pay after posting, and then deleting, from social media a photo of himself with his wife’s young assistant that showed their zippers partially down and their stomachs exposed.

But pressure to resign became intense after reports surfaced about an extramarital affair involving both Falwell and his wife, Becki.

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Giancarlo Granda, a young businessman, alleged that he was involved in a seven-year-long affair with the couple in which he had sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell, Jr. watched and sometimes recorded. Becki Falwell acknowledged the affair to The Washington Post but both she and her husband denied that Jerry Falwell, Jr. was involved.

The couple told The Post that the affair had lasted one or two years and that Granda had tried to blackmail them.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. told The Post in August that he was resigning in part because he did not want to bring embarrassment to the school because of his wife’s behavior.

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The lawsuit takes aim at statements made by Liberty after the resignation.

The lawsuit claims that Liberty accepted false statements about Falwell without investigating their veracity, forcing his resignation, and then engaged in a campaign to “tarnish, minimize, and outright destroy the legacy of the Falwell family and Mr. Falwell’s reputation,” according to the release.

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The release says the false statements were made by a man “supported financially by political opponents of Mr. Falwell in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, likely including the anti-Trump political action committee called The Lincoln Project.”

“The Lincoln Project didn’t make Mr. Falwell sit in the corner,” the group responded in a statement Thursday. “The Lincoln Project didn’t make Mr. Falwell unbutton his pants on a super yacht and post a picture on social media. The Lincoln Project didn’t make Mr. Falwell stand with Donald Trump, though that now makes sense; they are kindred spirits. The Lincoln Project has had nothing to do with the public finally learning about the true character of the Falwell family.”

Donald Trump, Jerry Falwell, Jr. are posing for a picture: President Trump stands with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. in Lynchburg, Va. (Steve Helber/AP File) © Steve Helber/AP President Trump stands with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. in Lynchburg, Va. (Steve Helber/AP File)

Falwell’s 2016 endorsement of Trump came not long after Michael Cohen, who was then Trump’s personal attorney, said he helped the Falwells cover up compromising photos.

Falwell’s ties to Trump had added to the aura of invincibility that came from his family name. His father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. was a prominent leader of the religious right, a televangelist who helped found Liberty University with a mission of “training champions for Christ.” His brother, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, is senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, where their father was founding pastor.

After their father’s death in 2007, Jerry Falwell, Jr. became president of Liberty, and the public face of the university.

When he resigned in August, Falwell said his contract entitled him to a $10.5 million severance package in part because he left the school without admitting to or being formally accused of wrongdoing.

Liberty named Jerry Prevo, a fundamentalist pastor from Alaska who had been serving as chairman of the school’s board of trustees, as acting president. The board launched an independent investigation into university operations during Falwell’s tenure.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!