Jerry Falwell Jr. Sues Liberty University, Claiming School Owes Him $8.5M in Retirement Benefits
Jerry Falwell Jr. is suing Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, claiming his former employer has withheld $8.5 million in retirement benefits that were previously promised to him.
The son of the school’s founder and conservative activist Jerry Falwell Sr., Falwell has been credited with bringing Liberty University back from the brink of financial collapse while serving as its president from 2007 to 2020.
However, Falwell’s tenure at the school ended amid scandal and controversy in 2020 after Falwell posted an image to social media of himself alongside a woman with their pants unbuttoned and unzipped. The image was meant to be taken in jest, but many nevertheless found it troubling.
After being placed on indefinite leave, Falwell and his wife, Becki, made a public statement that Becki had engaged in an extramarital affair and that their family was now being blackmailed.
The next day, Reuters published a now-infamous article detailing the account of Giancarlo Granda, a former Miami Beach pool attendant who claimed the Falwell’s had engaged in a lurid relationship with him, in which Falwell watched him and Becki have sex for his own pleasure. Granda also claimed Falwell had used his money and influence to control him and keep him quiet.
The Falwell’s vehemently deny the details of Granda’s account, though they admit Becki did have an affair with Granda.
Granda’s telling of the story was recently the subject of a Hulu documentary titled “God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty.”
When Falwell resigned from Liberty University, it was announced that the two parties had settled on a $10 million severance package, because Falwell had not been formally accused of or admitted to wrongdoing.
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Since that time, Liberty and Falwell have volleyed various lawsuits. In Oct. 2020, Falwell sued Liberty for allegedly damaging his reputation after the university launched an investigation into the school’s previous financial entanglements with Falwell’s personal real estate investments. While Falwell later dropped that suit, he later revived it in Nov. 2021.
Liberty University sued Falwell in April 2021 for allegedly breaching his contract while working for the university, as well as violating his fiduciary duty. In the suit, the school claims Falwell withheld information that would be damaging to the school’s reputation during severance negotiations, including his alleged problems with alcohol and the details of Becki’s affair with Granda.
That litigation is ongoing.
Now Falwell is suing the school for not having paid the $8.5 million they had previously agreed to award him by this point in time in accordance with his severance arrangement. Liberty University has apparently not paid out the sum in light of the ongoing litigation regarding what, if anything, Falwell is actually owed by the school.
In a statement, Liberty University said, “This claim is part of a larger dispute currently pending in state court. The University will defend the new action on the same grounds it has already pled on the record in the state case.”
“Liberty is confident it is not legally required to pay these funds and will file the appropriate responses with the federal court,” the statement went on to say.
This article was originally published at ChurchLeaders.com.
Main photo: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America / via Wikimedia Commons