Mr Falwell was already on indefinite leave from Liberty at this point, after posting a photo on Instagram which featured him holding a glass of black liquid, with his pants partially unzipped and his arm wrapped around his wife’s assistant. The photo, which was quickly deleted, was taken during a family vacation on a yacht owned by a prominent Liberty supporter.
The school board accepted Mr Falwell’s resignation on August 25. Jerry Prevo, a retired Alaska mega-church pastor and a member of the Liberty board of directors, has served as the school’s interim president since Mr Falwell left.
Thursday’s trial alleges that after disputed details of Ms Falwell’s relationship with Mr Granda were made public, Liberty “acted swiftly to destroy Mr Falwell’s reputation in the Liberty community and across the country. “. In particular, the costume highlights a speech campus pastor David Nasser gave to students shortly after Mr. Falwell left. Mr. Nasser called “the things that led to” Mr. Falwell’s resignation as “culpable behavior” and “shameful,” and the lawsuit calls the speech libelous.
The lawsuit also accuses the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump organization founded by current and former Republican strategists, of helping publicize Mr. Granda’s account for the purpose of harming a prominent Trump supporter. Lincoln Project senior adviser Kurt Bardella provided pro bono public relations advice to Mr Granda for five days after his accusations against the family were made public.
Project Lincoln responded in a statement, “Project Lincoln has nothing to do with the public finally discovering the true character of the Falwell family.” Mr. Bardella declined to comment.
“Apart from God and my family, there is nothing in the world that I love more than Liberty University,” Falwell said in a statement issued by his lawyer Thursday. “I am saddened that the university officials, with whom I have shared so much success and maintained such a positive relationship, drew hasty conclusions about the allegations made against my character, did not properly investigate them,” then damaged my reputation as a result of my forced resignation.
Liberty spokesperson Scott Lamb said Thursday afternoon that the school had not been officially served with the costume and therefore could not comment on it. Mr Falwell and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.