Falwell Jr. drops defamation lawsuit against Liberty University

LYNCHBURG, VA - DECEMBER 09: Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is seen during a convocation at the Vines Center on the campus of Liberty University on Wednesday December 09, 2015 in Lynchburg, VA. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington P

Jerry Falwell Jr. has dropped a defamation lawsuit against his former employer, Liberty University.

A judge granted a motion this week to dismiss the case in a move that left open the possibility of Falwell refiling a similar one later, The News & Advance reported Thursday. Court documents give no indication of why Falwell opted to withdraw the lawsuit.

READ MORE: Falwell Jr. sues Liberty University, saying school damaged his reputation

“I’ve decided to take a time out from my litigation against Liberty University, but I will continue to keep all options on the table for an appropriate resolution to the matter,” Falwell said in a brief statement to the newspaper Thursday.

Liberty said in a statement that Falwell's “unilateral and voluntary dismissal was not prompted by any payments, promises, or other consideration” from the school.

“The University’s administration and Board of Trustees are pleased that Falwell has dropped his lawsuit and look forward to pressing onward with the work of Liberty’s President and Chancellor Search Committee to find the new leadership to succeed Falwell,” the statement said.

READ MORE: Liberty University announces investigation into Falwell's tenure

Falwell stepped down as president and chancellor of Liberty, the evangelical school his father founded, in August. His departure came 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.

READ MORE: Jerry Falwell Jr. says he faced 'emotional toll' after wife's affair

In his complaint filed in late October, Falwell claimed that Liberty officials accepted Granda's claims too easily and “moved quickly” to destroy his reputation. The lawsuit also included claims of breach of contract.

Shortly after Falwell’s departure, Liberty announced it was opening an independent investigation into his tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that would look into financial, real estate and legal matters.

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