Jerry Falwell Jr. dropped a defamation lawsuit Wednesday against Liberty University, months after a series of scandals forced his resignation as president of the university, the Washington Post reported.
In the lawsuit, Falwell alleges that Liberty University accepted “salacious and baseless accusations” against him without an investigation and participated directly in the defamation by making statements about his behavior during a Community Service event, in a press release and in the University’s official magazine, according to the Washington Post.
Falwell resigned from his position in August after a Reuters report revealed a 7-year long affair between his wife, Becki Falwell, and a pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda. Granda provided proof of the affair to Reuters, including text messages and emails. He said that he had developed an intimate relationship with Becki Falwell and that Jerry Falwell “enjoyed watching from the corner of the room” while the two had sex. (RELATED: Becki Falwell Confirms Affair, Denies That Husband Jerry Was Involved)
In the complaint, Falwell called Granda’s allegation that he looked on while the two had sex an “outrageous, false, and defamatory” lie. Falwell admitted that his wife had an “inappropriate intimate relationship” with Granda in a statement to the Washington Examiner, but claimed he was “not involved.”
Prior to the Reuters report, Falwell was placed on paid leave after posting an Instagram photo where he was standing with his arm around a woman with both of their pants unzipped. Falwell, who prohibits Liberty students from drinking alcohol regardless of their age, was holding a dark-colored beverage, which he claimed was a “prop.”
— The Hill (@thehill) August 4, 2020
Kurt Bardella, a senior adviser to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, represents Granda, according to the lawsuit. The complaint alleged that the Lincoln Project conspired with Granda to harm Falwell’s reputation, in part because Falwell is a Trump supporter who is often credited with securing the evangelical vote for the president in 2016.
The lawsuit also claimed that Falwell was the victim of extortion. Granda allegedly demanded large sums of money in exchange for his silence about the affair with Becki Falwell. “Granda’s behavior became increasingly erratic and threatening” once the Falwells refused to pay, the lawsuit alleged. (RELATED: ‘Appalling’: Senior GOP Rep Calls For Falwell’s Resignation Over Viral Party Photo)
Liberty University allegedly accepted Granda’s story without question and began scrubbing Falwell from campus. The University allegedly took down portraits of him, removed him from the University website, prohibited staff from speaking with him and banned him from campus.
“Liberty’s actions are antithetical to the teachings of Christ,” the lawsuit read. “Liberty’s conduct has damaged Mr. Falwell’s standing among Liberty faculty, students, and alumni, the broader evangelical community, and beyond.”
Falwell demanded a trial by jury in the lawsuit. His attorneys did not give a reason for withdrawing the suit.
“Falwell’s unilateral and voluntary dismissal was not prompted by any payments, promises, or other consideration from Liberty,” Liberty University said in a statement. “The University’s administration and Board of Trustees are pleased that Falwell has dropped his lawsuit and look forward to pressing onward with the work of Liberty’s President and Chancellor Search Committee to find the new leadership to succeed Falwell.”