Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., has called on the FBI to investigate claims reported in Politico that he allegedly presides over a “culture of fear and self-dealing" at the school. Falwell also said this apparent smear campaign against him is part of an “attempted coup.”
“I am going to the authorities and I am going to civil court,” Falwell told the Associated Press on Sept. 9.
In that AP interview, he said “he has evidence that [a] group improperly shared emails belonging to the university with reporters in an attempt to discredit him.” He also said “the ‘attempted coup’ was partially motivated by his ardent backing of President Donald Trump.”
According to The Hill, Falwell Jr. said “in the coming days the FBI will review university documents at Lynchburg, Va., campus.” He said former colleagues allegedly are stealing property by taking emails and giving them to the media “in an effort to damage his reputation.”
In the Sept. 9 Politico article by Brandon Ambrosino, unnamed sources make critical claims about Falwell and Liberty University. For instance, one unnamed source is quoted as allegedly saying, “We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund.”
The same unnamed source allegedly claims, “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”
Falwell told The Hill that his attorneys apparently “have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they’re [allegedly] involved in a criminal conspiracy, are [allegedly] working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters."
In one controversy, the article claims to show a photo of Falwell at a dance club in Miami Beach, Fla., which allegedly was posted online. Liberty University’s honor code prohibits students from attending dances or consuming alcohol.
On Sept. 11, Falwell tweeted, “Just for the record, I never denied going into a club with my family to listen to music for about 30 minutes years ago. I only denied I asked anyone to scrub pics of me. I never knew of any pics until a week ago DUH. LU’s lawyers and criminal authorities will go after the leakers.”
Liberty University was founded in 1971 by Elmer Towns and the late Christian evangelist Jerry Falwell. The university has 17 colleges, including a medical school and a law school. Its sports teams play in Division I of the NCAA. Jerry Falwell Jr. became president of Liberty University after the death of his father in 2007.
(Disclosure: Kharen Martinez Murcia is a third-year student at Liberty University.)