Liberty University has just sued Jerry Falwell Jr. for ten million dollars, claiming that his behavior ran counter to his obligations as an officer of the school.
I only hope that there is a way for both of them to lose:
Liberty University filed a lawsuit this week against its former president Jerry Falwell Jr., alleging that he breached his contract and fiduciary duties to the school as he sought to cover up a personal scandal.
The evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Va., is seeking more than $10 million in damages from the man who led it for 13 years. The suit filed Thursday in Lynchburg Circuit Court marked another twist in the saga of Falwell’s messy departure last year from Liberty.
Later that month he agreed to resign after news reports emerged about a young man Falwell and his wife, Rebecca Falwell, had befriended who allegedly was sexually connected to the couple. Falwell has said that his wife, who also goes by Becki, had a brief affair with the man.
Falwell, 58, filed a defamation suit against Liberty in October, alleging the school accepted without verifying what he called false statements made by the young man. He later dropped the lawsuit.
In its lawsuit, Liberty contends that Falwell failed to return university-owned computers, devices and confidential information to Liberty and that he failed to disclose to the university alleged threats of extortion he had received in connection with potential personal scandals.
The 38-page complaint alleges that Falwell deliberately sought to hide the affair. “Despite his clear duties as an executive and officer at Liberty, Falwell Jr. chose personal protection,” the suit alleged.
Further, the suit alleged: “Falwell Jr.'s actions in breaching the fiduciary duty he owed to Liberty were willful and wanton and disregarded the rights of Liberty.”
When Falwell resigned in August, he said he was entitled to $10.5 million in severance. Liberty, in its lawsuit, disputes that claim.
His severance package is a major issue in the suit. Liberty alleges that Falwell concealed information about extortion threats from the governing board when he negotiated a new contract in 2019 that included a higher salary and a provision for two years of severance pay, under certain conditions, worth a total of $2.5 million. The suit indicates that Liberty agreed to that level of payout on Aug. 28, 2020.
Falwell’s father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., was a prominent leader of the religious right who founded Liberty University and a nearby church.
Under Jerry Falwell Jr., who became Liberty’s president and chancellor after his father died in 2007, the school grew enormously and became a frequent stop for Republican politicians and others who wanted to connect with conservative evangelical Christian audiences.
Liberty recently announced that Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Falwell Jr.’s brother, will become the school’s campus pastor at the end of the semester.
That last bit has gotta hurt.
I hope that this case burns through decades and consumes millions of dollars from both institutions.