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Falwell Alleges Defamation in Liberty University Lawsuit

Jerry Falwell Jr. is suing Liberty University for defamation, following a sex scandal that involved him and his wife. (2018 File Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press)

Jerry Falwell Jr., the former president for Liberty University, filed a lawsuit against the evangelical school Wednesday, accusing the Lynchburg institution of defamation and breach of contract.

Falwell -- the son of the university’s founder -- was forced to step down in August after a series of controversies, including allegations that he watched his wife engage in extramarital sex.

The allegations sparked added controversy due to Liberty University’s notably strict Honor Code. The code bans “sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman.”

The lawsuit claims the allegations about Falwell's sex life were politically motivated -- "President Trump's evangelical support is often attributed to Mr. Falwell's early endorsement of him during the 2016 primaries."

Falwell also accuses Liberty University of failing to conduct a complete investigation into the allegations before forcing his removal as university president. 

"Liberty University not only accepted the salacious and baseless accusations against the Falwells at face value, but directly participated in the defamation," the lawsuit reads. 

Following Falwell’s departure, the university condemned his alleged behavior. In one public incident, campus pastor David Nasser referred to the former president’s behavior as “sinful.”

Falwell says news of the sex scandal ruined his reputation "within the Liberty University community, the evangelical community, the real estate industry, the academic field, the political world and media outlets."

By engaging in the alleged defamation, Falwell says the university violated a non-disparagement clause contained in his contract.

Falwell is calling for a jury trial, and he's asking to be compensated for damages stemming from defamation and breach of contract, for punitive damages and for interest the damages would have accrued since August.

The document -- which VPM obtained from the Lynchburg Circuit Court -- contains a few redacted sections. According to the clerk's office, the judge has asked for a hearing this week to determine if the original document should remain sealed. 


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