Politics - News Analysis

Evangelical Leader Jerry Falwell Jr. Called One of His Liberty University Students ‘Retarded’

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. mocked the school’s students, parents, and faculty for years in emails to school administrators, Reuters reports.

The evangelical leader and prominent supporter of Donald Trump wrote in one email that a student at his Virginia-based Christian university was “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded,” and called the school’s police chief a “half-wit.”

The disparaging emails, which span for nearly a decade-long period, follow numerous reports on Falwell’s questionable, and potentially criminal, behavior.

In 2011, Falwell referred to former engineering school dean Ronald Sones as “a bag of hot air” who “couldn’t spell the word ‘profit.'” Falwell called campus police Chief Richard Hinkley “a half-wit and easy to manipulate.”

In 2012, Falwell wrote an email directing staff to “only get [then-associate athletics director Kevin Keys] involved in something if you want it not to work.”

Students’ parents contacted Liberty University in 2012 concerned about a plan to move freshmen into off-campus housing after the school starts rebuilding its on-campus dorms over Christmas break. After one mother’s letter, Falwell wrote to a staff member to “tell them, if they keep complaining, we’ll tear [the dorms] down over Thanksgiving break!”

Falwell complained in a 2013 email of Liberty students using an off-campus gym to work out in instead of the university’s gym. Falwell called the students who worked out there “social misfits” and considered barring students from working out off-campus.

Politico recently reported that Falwell graphically discussed his sex life with employees.

Former colleagues have also accused him of funneling university money into real-estate deals, and awarding school contracts to friends, including his personal fitness trainer.

Falwell has since claimed that there is a “criminal conspiracy” against him by former board members at the school, and says he has asked the FBI to investigate whether his ex-colleagues broke the law by sharing internal school documents to journalists.


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