The ongoing legal battle between Liberty University and Jerry Falwell Jr. has taken yet another twist, as the school’s former president has alleged misconduct by its board of directors and attempted to ban the university from using images of his late father.
In an amended complaint filed in federal court last week, Falwell Jr., who resigned from his post in August 2020 in the wake of multiple scandals, alleged several board members, including former interim Liberty President Jerry Prevo and former Southern Baptist Convention President Jerry Vines, diverted university funds to their private causes.
“During his lifetime, Dr. Falwell earned a reputation as a major proponent of financial integrity in religious and educational institutions and led the way in restoring public trust and confidence in such institutions after financial scandals associated with other, unrelated church leaders rocked the evangelical community in the 1980s,” Falwell Jr.’s lawyer argued in the amended complaint, filed Sept. 13.
The reference to “Dr. Falwell” is to Jerry Falwell Sr. “The JERRY FALWELL brand will not be associated with such conduct,” the amended complaint stated.
Falwell Jr. also alleges the board overlooked sexual misconduct by former leaders, including an unnamed former president, only to turn on Falwell Jr. when his life fell apart. Falwell Jr. also alleges the board exploited a near-fatal lung condition he suffered and harassed him by not paying him retirement benefits.
The complaint lays much of the blame at the feet of Prevo, who the complaint alleges diverted school funds to his personal foundation and used the school’s corporate jet to fly to his homes in Alaska and Arizona — $35,000 per trip and $20,000 per trip, respectively, according to the amended complaint.
Liberty calls allegations ‘improper and unsupported’
Asked about the complaint, a Liberty University spokesperson responded in a statement.
“In response to Liberty’s compelling motion to dismiss his complaint, Jerry Falwell, Jr. filed an amended complaint containing improper and unsupported allegations designed to diminish former colleagues, family, and friends and to discredit the university where he formerly served,” the statement read.
“These personal attacks have no place in a legal dispute over the use of a person’s name, image, and likeness. Liberty will file the appropriate response to these claims in due time and defend its legal right to continue the use of Dr. Jerry Falwell’s name.
“Furthermore, we stand by our initial statement that Liberty University and its Board of Trustees have only sought to honor the visionary leadership of Dr. Jerry Falwell and the mission of training Champions for Christ.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Bob Smietana and Jack Jenkins and originally published by Religion News Service.