Liberty University is suing Jerry Falwell Jr for $10 million, claiming he withheld scandalous information from trustees while negotiating a new contract for himself.
Falwell, a key Trump ally and one of the most powerful figures in the evangelical movement, was removed as head of the powerful private Christian university in August after he and his wife were accused of pursuing an improper relationship with a 20-year-old pool boy.
The scandal continues after the university filed a lawsuit in Lynchburg, Virginia on Thursday (15 April) alleging breach of contract and fiduciary duty while he was in post.
Liberty said that Falwell, 58, breached his duties by refusing to disclose his relationship with the pool boy and negotiating a higher salary and severance package when he knew the affair could damage the school.
Instead of divulging the active threat to Liberty’s reputation, “Falwell Jr chose personal protection,” the suit claims, by leading “a scheme to cover up the illicit conduct”.
He did so despite knowing that “infidelity, immodesty, and acceptance of a loose lifestyle would stand in stark contrast to the conduct expected of leaders at Liberty,” it continues.
Falwell is also accused of improperly mixing university duties with his personal life and failing to disclose or address “his personal impairment by alcohol”.
Furthermore, the suit alleges that he deceived the board’s executive committee into redesigning his contract to include a higher severance payout if he resigned for “good reason” or if Liberty terminated his contract without cause.
He claimed it would serve as a “safety valve” if his support for Donald Trump proved damaging to the school’s reputation.
But the real reason for negotiating the deal, the suit claims, was to protect against the possibility that his pool boy would take their relationship to the press.
The suit also claims that Falwell used a non-Liberty email address and personal devices to conduct university business.
Although Liberty paid for the devices and confidential university information is stored on them, Falwell has refused to return them, the university says.
Falwell filed his own suit against the university in October, claiming his reputation was damaged by the university firing him over the scandal. He dropped it in December.