LYNCHBURG, Va. – Jerry Falwell Jr. dropped a defamation lawsuit against Liberty University, four months after he resigned as president of the Christian school after personal scandals, Falwell and the university confirmed Wednesday.
“I’ve decided to take a time out from my litigation against Liberty University, but I will continue to keep all options on the table for an appropriate resolution to the matter,” Falwell said in a statement.
University officials said they were “pleased” with the lawsuit being dropped, adding that they are looking forward to finding a replacement for Falwell Jr., who resigned in August, WSLS reported.
“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,” spokesperson Scott Lamb wrote in a statement.
Attorneys for Falwell on Wednesday notified the Lynchburg Circuit Court that he would not pursue his lawsuit but did not state a reason for withdrawing the complaint, The Washington Post reported.
Falwell Jr. resigned in August after a string of personal scandals, including an allegation he and his wife, Becki Falwell, had an affair with former business partner Giancarlo Granda, The News & Advance of Lynchburg reported.
The announcement came on the first day of fall classes for the evangelical university, founded in 1971 by his late father, Jerry Falwell Sr.
In a 29-page lawsuit filed in late October, Falwell Jr. alleged that Liberty damaged his reputation and the board pressured him into resigning before properly investigating Granda’s accusation, the News & Advance reported. The complaint also alleged that Liberty University “needlessly injured and damaged (Falwell Jr.’s) 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.”
“By forcing Mr. Falwell’s resignation from Liberty immediately following Granda’s false and defamatory statements, Liberty sent the unmistakable message to the public that Granda’s false statements were, in fact, true,” the lawsuit alleged.
Granda claimed Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur — an allegation Falwell Jr. has denied, the News & Advance reported. Falwell has accused Granda of attempting to extort him, which Granda has denied.
According to court documents, the lawsuit also claimed Liberty University violated its employment agreement with Falwell Jr. because the contract included a nondisparagement clause
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