(RNS) — Former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. announced Thursday (Oct. 29) that he is suing the school, saying it damaged his reputation after his resignation in August.
Falwell resigned from the school founded by his father after a series of controversies, including allegations made by a former business partner that the partner had been involved in a long-standing sexual relationship with Falwell Jr. and his wife, Becki. After initially denying the story, Becki Falwell later admitted to having an affair but said her husband was not involved.
Falwell had been placed on leave earlier in the summer after posting a controversial photo on social media, showing himself with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman identified as Becki Falwell’s assistant, who posed with a bare midriff.
At the time of his resignation, Liberty’s board said “it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President.”
In a press release Thursday, Falwell alleges that an individual, supported by foes of President Donald Trump, made false claims against him. Falwell was one of Trump’s earliest and most vocal evangelical supporters.
“We attempted to meet several times with the Liberty University Board of Trustees Executive Committee but were unsuccessful in doing so. Thus, we were forced to seek remedy for Mr. Falwell’s ongoing injuries and damage to his reputation through the Court,” Falwell lawyer Robert Raskopf, of the firm Quinn Emanuel, said in the press release.
The complaint filed by Falwell’s lawyers claims that Liberty harmed its former president by failing to investigate the claims made by his former business partner, which the complaint labels as “lies.” Those claims are counted in detail in the complaint.
The complaint recounts the history of Liberty and Falwell’s tenure as president.
It also alleges that the school defamed Falwell by labeling his action as sinful and claims that the school’s reputation was damaged by “playing right into the hands of sinister operatives with ulterior motives.”
“Liberty’s actions are antithetical to the teachings of Christ,” the complaint, which seeks unspecified damages, states.
Raskopf did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The release did not give further details about the suit, which was filed in Lynchburg Circuit Court in Virginia.
Falwell said in the statement that he would restore his reputation and “repair damage to the Liberty University brand.”
“Other than God and my family, there is nothing in the world I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said in the news release.
After his departure, Falwell told a Virginia newspaper that he was relieved to leave Liberty and he quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.’”
“I’ve done all I can do at Liberty and I’m ready to move on to something else,” he told the News Advance. “This happened for a reason and the board treated me very, very generously and I am very grateful for that.”
At the time of Falwell’s departure, he told CNN that he expected to receive a severance package totaling $10.5 million.
A spokesman for Liberty said the school’s trustees were busy meeting this week and had not yet seen the lawsuit.
This story has been updated.