An attorney for Falwell did not respond immediately to a telephone message left Thursday, and Falwell did not respond to a voicemail and text seeking comment.
Falwell left Liberty in August after Giancarlo Granda, a younger business partner of the Falwell family, said he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur.
Although the Falwells have acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, Jerry Falwell has denied any participation. The couple allege that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to reveal the relationship unless he was paid substantial amounts of money.
Before his resignation, Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence after an uproar about a photo he posted on social media of him and his wife’s pregnant assistant, both with their pants unzipped.
Falwell said it was taken in good fun at a costume party during a vacation, but critics saw it as evidence of hypocrisy by the head of an institution that holds students to a strict moral code of conduct.
Shortly after Falwell’s departure, Liberty announced it was opening an independent investigation into his tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that would include financial, real estate and legal matters.
Earlier this month, the school identified Baker Tilly US as the firm handling the investigation and announced the launch of a website to “facilitate the reporting of potential misconduct to the investigative team.”
Falwell has declined to answer questions from the AP about the size of the exit package he received from the university but has discussed the issue with other news organizations, which reported that he was set to receive $10.5 million. However, Liberty said in a statement last month that it paid Falwell two years of base salary and disputed “media reports regarding the size and terms” of Falwell’s contract.
In an August interview with the AP, Falwell said the school’s board had been “very generous to me” but raised concerns that they were “being influenced by people who really shouldn’t have a say” about the future direction of Liberty.
In the lawsuit, Falwell claimed that Liberty “turned on” him after Granda went public with his allegations, forcing his resignation. The lawsuit also says Liberty rejected Falwell’s attempts “to reach an amicable resolution,” forcing Falwell to turn to the court to “restore his reputation.”
The lawsuit says Liberty’s statements have harmed not only Falwell’s reputation but also his future employment prospects and business opportunities. Falwell now has a “drastically reduced ability” to attach his name to business and charity organizations, and he has stopped receiving previously frequent invitations to appear on TV to discuss Liberty, evangelicalism and politics, the lawsuit says.