Jerry Falwell Jr. dropped his defamation claim against Liberty University on Wednesday, Lynchburg’s News & Advance reported.
Falwell had sued Liberty in October, claiming that the university had defamed him by relying on allegations of his involvement with Giancarlo Granda in firing him.
The son of the mega-pastor who founded Liberty University, Falwell Jr. moved to drop the case just days before Liberty was due to reply to his initial claim.
TPM reported in-depth last month on Granda’s eight-year relationship with Falwell and his wife, during which, Granda says, Jerry would watch as he had sex with Becki Falwell.
Both Falwells have said that there was an “affair” between Granda and Becki Falwell, though Jerry has denied that he was aware of it and has denied that it continued beyond 2014.
Falwell Jr. played a key role in Trump’s ascendance to the presidency in 2016, endorsing him in the Republican primary at a moment that gave the New York real estate developer support from the GOP’s evangelical base.
That came after Trump attorney Michael Cohen destroyed topless photos of Becki Falwell, a sequence of events that led many to question whether Falwell’s endorsement was a favor to Trump.
The News & Advance reported that a Lynchburg judge granted Falwell’s motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, meaning Falwell could refile the claim later.
“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 told the newspaper in a statement.
Since Granda went public with his allegations in August, Falwell Jr. has seen a stunning fall from grace. The longtime Liberty University president had already taken a leave of absence that month after posting a picture on Instagram of his pants unzipped on a yacht while holding “black water,” as Falwell put it, alongside an equally unzipped female.
But Granda’s decision to publicly allege – with documents that he says prove his claims – that Falwell watched as he regularly had sex with his wife was a death blow to the moral majority scion’s career at Liberty.
Granda later expanded on the allegations to TPM, saying that the liaisons continued into 2018, and that Michael Cohen had asked about Granda’s presence with the Falwells as early as 2012.