A former dean at Liberty College has sued the college, alleging he was fired in retaliation for his whistleblower reviews to Liberty management and legislation enforcement.
The lawsuit, filed within the Lynchburg Circuit Court docket final Thursday, claims that over the previous 4 years John Markley made “repeated good religion reviews of disturbing violations” of state and federal legislation at Liberty, solely to be terminated from his position as administrative dean for tutorial operations in June.
The college says that he was let go as a part of a reorganization and that his allegations are with out advantage.
Markley’s swimsuit lists 15 “improper actions” he mentioned he raised considerations about, together with probably fraudulent administration of Liberty charitable organizations and company subsidies; the intentional misrepresentation of acceptance charges and enrollment numbers for monetary achieve; and a compensation scheme for LU enterprise executives.
“The improprieties witnessed by Dr. Markley have been quite a few,” the swimsuit says. “Dr. Markley’s place offered an eye-opening perspective on the inside workings of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that operated to maximise income with out ethics and on the expense of reality and people keen to battle for it, and to the detriment of the scholars, and professors.”
Liberty spokesman Ryan Helfenbein mentioned in a press release that Markley’s termination was “wholly unrelated” to any misconduct allegations and that the college didn’t find out about his communication with a federal company till after he left.
The latest lawsuit, which alleges “retaliatory actions taken towards workers of LU” is just like one filed in October 2021 by Scott Lamb, Liberty’s former spokesman. Lamb alleged that he was fired for criticizing Liberty’s response to sexual assault. The varsity mentioned that “performed no position in his termination.” The swimsuit is ongoing.
Markley’s swimsuit additionally lists reviews of conflicts of curiosity in investigations of wrongdoing at Liberty, intentional destruction of doubtless related proof in such instances, and makes an attempt to “hinder the goals of Title IX and corrective measures to fight sexual assault on campus.”
In July 2021, 12 ladies sued Liberty College for fostering an unsafe campus setting and mishandling Title IX complaints. Inside months, 10 other Jane Does joined the lawsuit. An investigation by ProPublica discovered the Lynchburg, Virginia, faculty discouraged and dismissed pupil reviews of sexual assault. Former college students mentioned that when folks reported assault or rape, the college threatened to punish them for violations of “the Liberty Approach.”
Liberty settled the Jane Doe lawsuit in Might, announcing that it “had already undertaken varied initiatives” to raised defend ladies on campus. All but two of the Jane Does reached a settlement with the college. Advocates have called for an audit by an unbiased third get together because the findings from the investigation commissioned by Liberty’s board in 2020 into “all sides of Liberty College operations” weren’t disclosed publicly at its conclusion.
Based on his submitting, Markley started voicing considerations to Liberty management in 2018—a decade after he began working on the college and a 12 months after he was given a full-time place.
It’s been a tumultuous few years at Liberty. The varsity lost its spot as the biggest Christian college, although it stays one of many largest gamers in Christian greater ed with whole enrollment over 130,000. Former president Jerry Falwell Jr., whose enterprise savvy grew the evangelical faculty, entangled Liberty in controversy: his monetary offers, his friendship with Donald Trump, offenses over race, and the sexual scandal finally led to his resignation in 2020.
After Falwell Jr.’s resignation, the board commissioned an out of doors agency to analyze enterprise operations throughout his presidency, “together with however not restricted to monetary, actual property, and authorized issues.” The findings haven’t been made public. Multiple stories by Politico reported on self-dealing on the multibillion-dollar college, comparable to building and actual property tasks going to household and buddies of the Falwells.
The varsity has yet to name Falwell’s successor and is presently being led by longtime LU board chair Jerry Prevo. Markley was supervised by Scott Hicks, Liberty provost and chief educational officer, who serves underneath Prevo.
In his submitting, Markley says he by no means acquired office self-discipline or a efficiency enchancment plan from Liberty earlier than his termination.
The varsity plans to file “a point-by-point refutation of the allegations starting with the truth that Dr. Markley was let go from the college because of an administrative reorganization,” it mentioned in a press release. “Throughout his time of employment on the college, Dr. Markley expressed his opinions on sure administrative issues. His opinions have been taken critically and addressed appropriately, even when unfounded.”
Markley’s lawsuit says he acted as a whistleblower till his termination.
“Dr. Markley reported these points as he had a superb religion perception that they have been violations of the legislation and doing so was in the most effective pursuits of the establishment, its college students, and its educational applications,” it reads. “However for Dr. Markley’s quite a few protected reviews underneath the legislation, LU wouldn’t have terminated Dr. Markley’s employment.”
Markley is asking for monetary compensation and for reinstatement to his job.