Fallen Falwell News Flash - just out! Liberty University has filed a $10million civil lawsuit against its former president, Jerry Falwell Jr, accusing him of concealing his wife's affair with a pool boy who tried to extort them, and failing to disclose that he drank alcohol.
The complaint, filed last Thursday in Lynchburg Circuit Court, alleges that Falwell crafted a 'well-resourced exit strategy' from his role as president and chancellor in the form of a 2019 employment agreement while withholding from the school key details about a personal scandal involving his former pool attendant Giancarlo Granda that exploded into public view last year.
'Despite his clear duties as an executive and officer at Liberty, Falwell Jr. chose personal protection,' the lawsuit says.
In October, Falwell had sued Liberty for defamation, saying it damaged his reputation by lending credence to what he called Granda's 'lies.' The lawsuit, which did not disclose how much he sought in damages, was dropped in December.
Liberty University filed its complaint on the same day Politico revealed that Falwell's son Trey has been ousted from his $234,000-a-year job as vice president at the Christian conservative college that was founded by his grandfather, the Reverend Jerry Falwell Sr. It is unclear why Trey left, and whether he did so voluntarily.
Liberty University's lawsuit alleges that Falwell failed to disclose and address 'the issue of his personal impairment by alcohol' and has refused to fully return Liberty’s confidential information and other personal property.
Falwell’s departure from the Virginia university in August 2020 came soon after Granda, a one-time Miami pool boy-turned-business partner of the Falwell family, said he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that Jerry participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur.
Although the Falwells acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, Jerry Falwell denied any participation. The couple alleged that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the relationship.
The lawsuit says that Falwell had a 'fiduciary duty to disclose Granda’s extortive actions, and to disclose the potential for serious harm to Liberty.'
Instead, Falwell 'furthered the conspiracy of silence and negotiated a 2019 Employment Agreement that contained a higher salary from Liberty,' the suit said.
Liberty further claimed that Falwell improperly mixed his university duties with his personal life despite knowing that 'infidelity, immodesty, and acceptance of a loose lifestyle would stand in stark contrast to the conduct expected of leaders at Liberty.'
Before the Granda scandal exploded, Falwell had already been on leave after he posted a photo on social media that sparked an uproar. It showed Falwell on a yacht with a drink in his hand and his arm around a young woman, said to be his wife's pregnant assistant, their pants unzipped and his underwear exposed.
The lawsuit, which alleges three counts - breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and statutory conspiracy - is seeking more than $10 million in compensatory damages, and possibly triple that amount, as permitted under Virginia law, as well as punitive and other damages. Liberty also wants Falwell to return phones, computers and other property belonging to the school.
Falwell, an attorney and real estate developer, had led Liberty University since the 2007 death of his father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who also founded the Moral Majority, the political organization which fizzled out, but which made evangelical Christians a key force in the Republican party.
In early 2016, Falwell become one of the first conservative Christians to endorse Trump for the presidency, and defended him after Trump’s lewd remarks about women and sexual assault, captured in a 2005 Access Hollywood recording, became public late in the campaign.
Falwell stepped down as head of the university last summer, when a probe into his behavior launched.
He has since returned to watch a campus game of lacrosse, and even claimed workers and former colleagues had been 'supportive.' Falwell shared photos of his visit on social media, and also told Politico that the college 'still embraced him.' That assertion prompted acting Liberty President Jerry Prevo to ban staff from communicating with Falwell Jr or Becki, and to immediately alert them if they are contacted by the couple.
Falwell's other son Wesley, and his daughters-in-law work in lower profile roles at Liberty, and it remains unclear if they will remain in their roles.
Shortly after Falwell's departure, Liberty announced it was opening an independent investigation into his tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that would look into financial, real estate, and legal matters.
In December, another fallen Falwell news flash emerged alleging that Jerry Falwell Jr spent millions in Liberty University money to promote Donald Trump, hiring his allies and paying for political advertisements.
In a statement emailed to staff after Falwell Jr's recent visits, Prevo said the university was engaged in a 'forensic investigation' of university operations during Falwell Jr's time in charge.
'This notice is sent to preserve the integrity of the investigation and ensure that Jerry Falwell Jr is not having any influence on the investigation or the university's operations, directly or indirectly,' Prevo told staff at the university.
Jerry Falwell Jr had already been on an indefinite leave of absence after an uproar over the photo with him and his wife's pregnant assistant, both with their pants unzipped in August 2020. Weeks later he stepped down from the role after news of his wife's affair with Granda became public.
The Falwells met Granda in Miami in 2012 when he was aged 20 and were said to be so impressed with him that they invested in a gay hostel that he and their son ran as managers.
He had sex with Falwell's wife Becki several times a year in hotel rooms, sometimes while Falwell Jr watched, until 2018, he claimed. 'Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,' Granda said in a statement.
Falwell Jr acknowledged the affair but said that he was 'not involved.' 'Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved... it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about.'
Falwell Jr alleged Granda had blackmailed him and Becki, and claimed that the 'threatening behavior' left him with 'trauma' and had greatly affected him as he tried to run Liberty University.
Weeks after that affair was exposed, a former Liberty University student came forward with another fallen Falwell news flash telling Politico how Becki had performed oral sex on him in 2008.
The unnamed student, a 22 year-old friend of the Falwells' son at the time of the alleged encounter, said Becki pounced on him after he went to their house for band practice. He alleges that Becki came on to him, then jumped into bed with him and gave him oral sex while he was staying over.
The student said of the incident: 'She was the aggressor.'