Liberty University, a school founded by late Moral Majority leader the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., is under federal investigation for the way it handled allegations of sexual assault.
The school, based in Lynchburg, Va., has long been active in promoting Christian nationalist views. The institution received unwanted attention last year after its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., was forced out after a sex scandal.
Save 71, a group composed of Liberty alumni, students and faculty members that has been pushing for new leadership at Liberty, reported that the U.S. Department of Education will be interviewing dozens of Liberty employees. The department declined to confirm the investigation, but Liberty officials have admitted it is under way.
“We have pledged our full cooperation and look forward to the opportunity to strengthen and enhance our program through this assessment process,” a Liberty spokesperson said. “We have also committed to work collaboratively with the Department to address any potential compliance gaps identified through the review.”
Last year, 12 women who attended the school sued Liberty, alleging that the school created an atmosphere that left women vulnerable to sexual assault. The suit was recently settled out of court, and no details of the settlement were provided to the media.
In a separate legal action, a former Liberty student sued the school in April. The woman said she was raped by a fellow Liberty student and that when she reported the assault, the university allowed the alleged assailant to remain on campus and that she was offered no protective measures, reported WSET-TV in Lynchburg. She was in fear of the man and left the school.
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has been calling for an investigation of Liberty for months, hailed the Education Department’s move.
“I’m glad the Department of Education is investigating Liberty’s handling of sexual assault,” Kaine said in a statement. “I hope the Department looks into it thoroughly. As I’ve said, any campus policy that deters or discourages a survivor of sexual assault from speaking out and seeking justice is wrong. Students who bravely speak out deserve to be heard and to have their claims taken seriously.”