(RNS) — A former vice president of Liberty University is suing one of the nation’s largest Christian schools, alleging he was fired after he complained about how Liberty handled sexual assaults on campus.
Walter Scott Lamb served as Liberty’s chief media spokesman during the tumultuous final years of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s term as president of the school. He remained at Liberty following Falwell’s 2020 resignation after a series of controversial incidents.
In a complaint filed Monday (Oct. 25) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Lamb alleges he attended a meeting on Oct. 4 at which several top Liberty leaders, including President Jerry Prevo, discussed how the university had responded to a series of high-profile reports of sexual assaults on campus.
In July, 12 women filed a lawsuit alleging Liberty’s leaders had created an unsafe atmosphere on campus, alleging the university’s honor code, known as “the Liberty Way,” made it “difficult or impossible for students to report sexual violence.”
Lamb’s complaint alleges he disagreed with how the school had responded to cases of sexual abuse, and he was particularly critical of Prevo, leading to a confrontation at the early October meeting.
“During the October 4 meeting, University President Prevo called Plaintiff a ‘liar,’” according to the complaint. “Upon information and belief, this epithet reacted to Plaintiff’s vocal opposition to the University’s handling of what Plaintiff believed to be corrupt practices, which included the University’s failure to address Title IX violations, by the highest level of University leadership and the Board of Trustees.”
The complaint also alleges school officials retaliated against Lamb for taking part in an investigation into Falwell’s time in office.
In an Oct. 25 statement to The Washington Post, Liberty said Lamb was terminated after “a meeting about a recent review of the area under his management.”
“While we are generally reticent to comment on personnel matters, we would like to make it clear that Lamb’s advice on how to publicly respond to the Jane Doe Title IX lawsuit played no role in his termination,” a Liberty spokesman told the Post.
The lawsuit comes a day after the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published an extensive report about how Liberty responded to sexual assault, including multiple cases where students were warned they could be disciplined for violating the “Liberty Way.”
According to the complaint, Lamb, who was first hired at the school in 2018, seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. He told The Associated Press his four children lost their scholarships to Liberty when he was fired.
“I’ll forsake the scholarship and the salary and the benefits … to keep my tongue free to speak of which I’ve seen,” he told the AP.
Earlier this year, Liberty sued Falwell for $10 million for breach of contract.
Despite the controversies under Falwell, who stepped down after being placed on a leave of absence by the school’s board, Liberty remains wildly successful. The school reported $1.34 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, which exceeded expenses by about $250 million, according to nonprofit financial disclosures to the IRS. The school’s total assets are just under $3 billion, up from $851 million in 2012.