Defamation suit continues

Judge dismisses majority of claims in lawsuit against Liberty University


Eleven out of 18 claims in a lawsuit filed by former Liberty football player Cameron Jackson against Liberty University and other parties were dismissed following a ruling from a U.S. district court judge Aug. 3.

The lawsuit, originally filed by Jackson on April 14, 2017, comes as a response to his dismissal from Liberty due to accusations of sexual assault.

Jackson alleges that the sexual encounter in question that transpired in August 2015 between him and his accuser was consensual and that the university did not respond appropriately to what Jackson claimed were her malicious accusations against him.

The suit seeks $100.2 million on counts that Jackson’s Title IX rights were violated, right to due process was ignored and future earnings were damaged from defamation by the university.

Specifically, five employees, the accuser — who was also alleged to have been a student athlete — and Liberty itself were named in the suit after an official university media statement was released Sept. 12, 2016 which stated Jackson and a fellow teammate had been found responsible for violating the Student Honor Code and Liberty University’s Policy on Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Assault.

Jackson maintains the press release tarnished his reputation and limited his future athletic and academic opportunities.

Following the judge’s ruling, Liberty General Counsel David Corry said in an email that Liberty welcomed the judge’s dismissal of the majority of claims.

“Liberty is pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss all but one of the claims it asked to be dismissed,” Corry said.

“Liberty maintains that its disciplinary process is fair, objective and thorough and it is confident that the remaining claims will also be rejected by the court, in time.”

The next pre-trial phase to take place is discovery, in which both parties collect and request a variety of evidence for use in the case.

Following this process, which will take several months to finish, a complete record of facts will be established, and the court will decide whether a full trial is necessary.

Corry stated in the email that Liberty is confident the remaining claims against the university and its employees will also be dismissed without the need of a jury trial following the discovery process.

The claims permitted to move forward include four defamation claims tied to the news release, two defamation claims against the accuser and one Title IX claim that Liberty attorneys have not yet moved to dismiss from the case.

Corry said in the email Liberty chose to wait to move to dismiss the Title IX claim because it is based on alleged facts that are better addressed in the summary judgment stage of the proceedings after a full factual record is established.

“Liberty will introduce the true facts later in a separate motion for summary judgment,” Corry said.

“Liberty University believes that the Title IX claim is meritless and will pursue summary judgment, which, if granted, would mean there is no trial on the Title IX claim.”

Young is the editor-in-chief.

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