Liberty College Sues Jerry Falwell, Jr. For Extra Than $10 Million : NPR

Jerry Falwell Jr., pictured on the 2016 Republican Nationwide Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, is the topic of a brand new lawsuit by Liberty College, his former employer. Invoice Clark/CQ-Roll Name, Inc by way of Getty Pictures disguise caption

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Invoice Clark/CQ-Roll Name, Inc by way of Getty Pictures

Jerry Falwell Jr., pictured on the 2016 Republican Nationwide Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, is the topic of a brand new lawsuit by Liberty College, his former employer.

Invoice Clark/CQ-Roll Name, Inc by way of Getty Pictures

Liberty College is suing former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for hundreds of thousands of {dollars}, accusing him of withholding damaging private data from college officers whereas negotiating a profitable employment settlement for himself, amongst different allegations.

The civil swimsuit was filed Thursday within the Lynchburg Circuit Courtroom in Virginia, and alleges breach of contract and fiduciary obligation in addition to statutory conspiracy. It's in search of $10 million in compensatory damages, which may probably be tripled beneath state regulation, along with punitive damages and the return of telephones, computer systems and different property belonging to the college.

In a 74-page grievance, Liberty supplied three motivations behind the lawsuit: to recuperate college property, redress breaches of assorted fiduciary duties throughout Falwell's tenure and recuperate damages for violations of Virginia's conspiracy statute.

In a press release to NPR, Falwell denounced the lawsuit as "yet one more try to defame me and discredit my document."

"All through all my years on the College, the place we constructed a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that reaches Christian's worldwide, I all the time abided by the necessities that utilized to everybody on the College employees," he added. "This lawsuit is stuffed with lies and half truths, and I guarantee you that I'll defend myself towards it with conviction."

A Liberty spokesperson stated, "The College's solely phrase on the topic is the lawsuit itself."

It's the newest chapter in a scandal-fueled saga that noticed Falwell resign from his submit final August over allegations of sexual conduct that violated the college's honor code.

Falwell, 58, had taken an indefinite go away of absence after going through widespread criticism for posting, then deleting, a racy picture on Instagram. Reviews then emerged {that a} household pal — since recognized as Giancarlo Granda — had an affair with Falwell's spouse Becki and for years extorted the household for cash.

Attorneys wrote within the grievance that a lot of their allegations have been backed up by statements Falwell made to the Washington Examiner in August and within the short-lived defamation swimsuit he filed towards the college in October.

In 2012, in response to these statements, Becki Falwell and Granda — then a 20-year-old resort worker in Miami — started an affair that Falwell knew about and which lasted on-and-off for 2 years.

When Becki Falwell broke issues off, Granda reportedly threatened to make use of their conduct to embarrass each the Falwells and the college, with the grievance noting that "there's little doubt" he maintains "a cache of fabric dangerous to the Falwells" akin to intimidate images and recorded communications.

"Falwell Jr. and Granda each knew that issues of infidelity, immodesty and acceptance of a free life-style would stand in stark distinction to the conduct anticipated of leaders at Liberty," the grievance reads. "Granda had amassed appreciable leverage over the Falwells, and, accordingly, they labored to maintain Granda pacified and quiet."

The Falwells reportedly spent 5 years working to appease Granda, akin to by bringing him on household journeys to Florida and Washington, D.C. The college alleges that Falwell "selected private safety" over his duties to the college by withholding the extortion from Liberty leaders.

Additionally throughout this time, Falwell was attracting controversy for his preliminary endorsement and continued assist of former President Donald Trump, a transfer that many deemed inappropriate for the chief of a conservative evangelical Christian college.

Falwell's employment contract at Liberty was because of expire in 2019, at which level the grievance says he was wracked with "fixed anxiousness" and planning to chop Granda off utterly at nice private danger. Searching for monetary safety from any potential fallout, the college stated he "started to style a well-resourced exit technique."

"To make sure, Falwell Jr. knew that household pictures taken in good locations wouldn't comprise Granda endlessly," it added.

In accordance with the grievance, Falwell allegedly noticed negotiations as a possibility to extend his private revenue whereas additionally enjoyable severance insurance policies that might make it simpler for him to half with the college for non-material actions — he reportedly deliberate to emphasise the assaults he had confronted over his engagement with presidential politics as justification.

In doing so, the college stated he knowingly withheld data that might have altered the character of these negations.

"Had Liberty's Govt Committee recognized in 2018 or 2019 that Granda was making an attempt to extort Falwell Jr., and thus planning to break Liberty, and had it recognized the total circumstances of Granda's extortion of Falwell Jr., then the Govt Committee would have avoided getting into into the [2019 agreement]," the grievance reads.

In the end, the college stated Falwell had negotiated for himself a big annual increase, organized for severance of two years' pay if he resigned for "Good Cause" or was terminated with out trigger and established a plan for retirement advantages that spanned his complete profession however had not been a part of any earlier settlement.

The grievance goes on to element how, after he lower Granda off in June 2019, Falwell started consuming to handle his stress.

Over the course of the following yr, he repeatedly discovered himself within the highlight and beneath scrutiny — akin to when he briefly posted the racy social media picture after which referred to as into a neighborhood radio station to supply a proof with noticeably slurred speech — which precipitated his go away of absence and eventual resignation.

The grievance additionally alleges that Falwell's failure to reveal and handle his points with alcohol led him to "actions and programs of conduct detrimental to the non secular mission of Liberty."

All of this falls beneath the allegation of breach of fiduciary obligation, which the college says damage its enrollment, donor base, school and status. It's in search of $10 million in damages, plus pre- and post-judgment curiosity, and punitive damages on the statutory restrict of $350,000.

Liberty can be alleging breach of contract, saying Falwell persistently refused to make use of his university-provided electronic mail handle for enterprise communications however did require the college to supply him with units akin to computer systems and telephones.

Falwell has allegedly did not return this property — each the units and the confidential college data they comprise — and the college estimates damages at $250,000.

The third rely, statutory conspiracy, includes a Virginia code that prohibits two or extra individuals from "agreeing to injure one other of their commerce or enterprise."

Because the grievance explains, Liberty's enterprise is offering increased schooling by a Christian perspective, with excessive ethical requirements being part of the tutorial expertise.

Falwell, Becki Falwell and Granda "acted in live performance beneath a preconceived plan" to hide the allegations and extortion from Liberty trustees, the grievance says, alleging they acted purposefully and with out authorized justification.

For this cost, it seeks $10 million in damages, which may very well be tripled beneath state regulation, and the statutory restrict of $350,000 in punitive damages "plus another damages provable at trial."

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