April 16 (UPI) — Virginia’s Liberty University has sued former leader Jerry Falwell Jr., accusing him of hiding a scandal involving his personal life during contract negotiations in 2019.
The evangelical Christian university filed the lawsuit Thursday in the Commonwealth of Virginia Circuit Court in Lynchburg, seeking $10 million in compensatory and $350,000 in punitive damages.
Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned from the school in August, after it came to light that his wife, Becki Falwell, was having an affair with a man who was working at a Miami hotel where they were vacationing eight years ago.
Jerry Falwell Jr. said the man, Giancarlo Granda, extorted the family, claiming that the former Liberty University president sometimes watched Becki Falwell and Granda as they engaged in the affair. Jerry Falwell Jr. confirmed the affair but said he never participated.
Liberty University, though, said Jerry Falwell Jr. never told the school about the alleged extortion. They accused of him of keeping the scandal secret in order to secure a better contract renewal in 2019.
“He committed himself to non-disclosure and actively developed an approach to muzzle Granda,” the lawsuit said.
The school also said Jerry Falwell Jr. and Becki Falwell violated Liberty University’s code of conduct by frequenting clubs, drinking alcohol and conducting extramarital affairs, citing photos of the former president partying at nightclubs, on yachts and with young women with his pants unzipped.
Falwell earned a salary of almost $1 million per year as president of Liberty University in 2018.
Jerry Falwell Jr. sued Liberty University in October, accusing the board of trustees of defaming him after forcing his resignation. The lawsuit said Liberty officials sullied his reputation by publicly denouncing his behavior as “shameful” and sinful.