A Falwell Comes Out Against Public Shaming

LYNCHBURG, VA - MAY 13:  Jerry Falwell, President of Liberty University, speaks during a commencement at Liberty University May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, Virginia. President Donald Trump is the first sitting president to speak at Liberty's commencement since George H.W. Bush spoke in 1990.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Jerry Falwell, President of Liberty University, speaks during a commencement at Liberty University. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Jerry Falwell Jr. just wants the evangelical university he ran for more than a decade to stop shaming him.

In a reply to a lawsuit filed by Liberty University in April, Falwell said that university his father founded was abusing the courts to defame him.

“The rehashing of these events and protected defamation of Falwell through litigation serves one mission — ruining Falwell’s reputation through mischaracterization of events and public shaming through out-of-context pictures filed in a public complaint,” Falwell’s court filing reads.

Liberty sued Falwell for millions of dollars in damages, claiming that Falwell had broken his contract with the evangelical institution by concealing an alleged extortion attempt by his wife’s former lover Giancarlo Granda.

Falwell denies that he knew of Granda’s involvement with his wife, while Granda says that Jerry Jr. would watch as he and Becki Falwell had sex.

The allegations from Granda, a business partner of the Falwells in South Florida real estate, came after Jerry Jr. had spent years helming a university that fines students for drinking, dancing, and fraternizing with members of the opposite sex. Liberty claimed in its suit that Falwell knew that “matters of infidelity, immodesty, and acceptance of a loose lifestyle would stand in stark contrast to the conduct expected of leaders at Liberty.”

But in the legal response, filed in Lynchburg, Virginia circuit court, Falwell dismissed the lawsuit as a “novella,” saying that Liberty was trying to “embarrass Falwell and his family.”

The filing suggests that it’s not so much Jerry Jr. who is the focus of Liberty’s allegations, but rather, his wife Becki.

“Yet, through Liberty’s alleged indignation that Falwell’s averred actions are bad and Liberty is good, the Complaint does not address Falwell’s actions as the leader of Liberty — instead, Liberty focuses on his wife’s personal life, when the two are separate and distinct,” the document reads.

Shortly before Reuters broke the news of Granda’s relationship with the Falwells, Jerry Jr. issued a statement saying that he had been unaware of an affair that Becki had had with Granda until 2014. His court filing takes up that narrative.

“At most, the affair is ultimately a personal issue between Granda and Becki, to which Falwell, as Becki’s husband, learned about,” the document reads.

Granda maintains that Jerry Jr. knew about and participated in the relationship while it was happening.

The suit goes on to describe the issue as “private matters that only indirectly clashed with Liberty’s interest,” and says that Jerry Jr. had no duty to report the Granda situation to Liberty.

Falwell resigned from his position as president of Liberty University in September 2020.

Since then, he has made sporadic public appearances. Falwell filed suit against Liberty in November 2020, before dropping the case in December.

The evangelical scion was recorded last month extending an invitation to Liberty seniors to come have a “real” graduation party at his family’s rural Virginia estate. He subsequently withdrew that invitation, citing medical problems that had persisted since September.

Read the reply here:

Latest Muckraker
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: