Bias Watch

Jerry Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University for “damaging his reputation”

Donald Trump with supporter Jerry Falwell Jr.
Donald Trump with supporter Jerry Falwell Jr. Photo: White House

Jerry Falwell Jr. is suing Liberty University after he was forced to resign following years of sexual and financial scandals, saying that the ultra-Christian school “needlessly injured and damaged his reputation.”

Falwell headed Liberty University since his father – powerful evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Sr. – passed away in 2007. He was caught partying in Miami, engaging in bad business deals with young, muscular men, and making sexually charged comments to school staff before he posted a picture of himself to social media with a woman who was not his wife – and both their pants were open.

Related: Evangelical Liberty University sues the NY Times for $10 million over scathing coronavirus article

He resigned several weeks later and then he blamed his fall from grace on an alleged affair between his wife, Becki Falwell, and Giancarlo Granda, a hotel pool attendant three decades younger than the couple. Granda shot back and said that they were in a three-way sexual relationship and that Falwell “enjoyed watching from the corner of the room.”

Now Falwell – who was one of the first evangelical leaders to support Donald Trump’s presidential bid in 2016 – is striking back against the school that his famous father founded.

“In his Complaint filed in the Commonwealth of Virginia Circuit Court for the City of Lynchburg, Mr. Falwell claims that Liberty University needlessly injured and damaged his reputation through a series of statements, published in print and spoken in large public forums and streamed online, following his forced resignation from the University,” his lawyers said in a statement released today.

“We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so. Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court,” said his attorney Robert Raskopf of Quinn Emanuel.

The lawsuit claims that the school defamed Falwell and broke their contract with him and mounted a campaign to “tarnish, minimize, and outright destroy the legacy of the Falwell family and Mr. Falwell’s reputation.”

Since he spoke out publicly, Granda said that he was “relentlessly” harassed by the Falwells.

He said that Becki Falwell first approached him in 2012. Granda said he was talking with women his age at the hotel he worked at in Miami when she came up to him and said: “Those girls don’t know what they’re doing, you need someone with more experience.”

“And then she goes, ‘But one thing.’ And I’m like, “OK’ ” Granda said. “And she’s like, ‘My husband likes to watch.’ And just then he comes out, and he’s wearing a Speedo.”

He said that led to an eight-year-long relationship that ended badly over a business deal involving a hotel. He said that the Falwells flew him in their private jet and took him on vacation.

“They treated me like a part of the family,” he said.

Granda said that people who worked at Liberty put Falwell on a pedestal.

The school was the subject of a long Politico expose in 2019, where staffers accused Falwell of abusing his power in both sexual and financial matters and acting like the ultra-conservative Christian school’s rules – which forbid the consumption of alcohol even by students over 21, ban “social dancing,” and don’t allow students to socialize with the opposite sex after dark – didn’t apply to him.

“All he wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” one former official said, with other officials saying he was “very, very vocal” about his sex life and would send sexual images of his wife to male subordinates.

Granda now says that he is “not shocked” by Falwell’s “attempt to shift the blame to someone else” when the evangelical leader said his many scandals were a result of an affair his wife had with Granda.

“Jerry and Becki’s version is false,” Granda said. Falwell “was aware of our relationship from day one.”

“Jerry is incapable of accepting responsibility for his actions.”

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