The former school President stepped down after taking a controversial photo on Rick Hendrick’s boat
Liberty University is private Evangelical university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. TV preacher Jerry Falwell Sr founded the school.
Recently, Hendrick Motorsports announced a five-year sponsorship extension with Liberty University. William Byron will continue to run the Liberty paint schemes via his No. 24 machine.
Through 2026, Liberty University will serve as the primary sponsor for 12 races per season. Byron is a graduate of the school via their online programs.
Since the sponsorship announcement, ProPublica reported that the school discouraged students from reporting sexual violence and/or pushed aside reports of assault.
Sexual assault case against Liberty University
In the report, Elizabeth Axley stated she was sexually assaulted at a college party by another student. The administrator of the school is accused of responding by asking why she went to the party, what she was wearing and what she had to drink?
The questions are a common practice to place blame on the victim of the assault. School officials are accused of hushing multiple victims who spoke out on multiple cases.
It’s a tactic that has been common in similar reports of Bible school sexual assault cases. Officials at other schools have been proven to keep cases private by encouraging victims to keep silent for fear of them no longer appearing pure.
In this case, the “Liberty Way”, a code of the school is accused of being the weapon used to silence cases.
In July, 12 women filed a joint lawsuit against Liberty noting sexual assault and harassment incidents. Since, 10 more plaintiffs have joined the lawsuit.
Last year, Jerry Falwell Jr resigned as the president of the university and issued an apology. Falwell Jr posted a vacation photo with his arms around his pregnant wife’s assistant, while his pants were unzipped. He was also accused of sexual relations between him, his wife and another man.
The boat where the photo was taken, was owned by NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick. The owner was not aboard the boat at the time, nor were any employees for the race team.
Rick Hendrick comments on Liberty University
Amid the reports, you don’t have to look far to find NASCAR fans asking for the team to part ways with Liberty University. However, Rick Hendrick stands by the school and looks for positive change…
“Things that happened years ago, whenever it did happen, they’ll make it right and move on,” Hendrick told the AP on Tuesday.
“Things like that, I mean, it’s not pleasant, but they’re dealing with it. They’re being very up front, very transparent.”
“They’re great people up there. They’ll get it worked out. That’s a situation that’s unfortunate. But they’ll get it resolved and move on.”
Jeremy Prevo issued a statement last week
Jeremy Prevo is the new president at the University. He addressed the lawsuit in a statement:
“The allegations in the Jane Doe 1-12 v. Liberty University lawsuit are deeply troubling, if they turn out to be true,” Prevo stated
“Many of the claims are the complete opposite of how the University’s policies and procedures were designed to operate over the years. Liberty has invested mightily in programs and personnel to help maintain a safe campus and to support any and all victims of sexual assault that came forward.”
“Liberty has a robust non-discrimination policy, which includes an amnesty policy to encourage victims to make reports without fearing that their involvement in other activities like drinking alcohol or extramarital sex will be disciplined under the student honor code.”
“That policy includes a fair process for resolving disputes about rape, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation, as well as providing supportive measures as appropriate.”
“It would be heartbreaking if those efforts had the results claimed in this lawsuit. We will immediately look into each of these claims to determine what needs to be done to make things right, if they turn out to be true.”
He added, “Because the claims are made anonymously and go back many years, in one case over two decades, it will take some time to sort through.”