Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr., in addition to being so racist that dozens of Black staffers and professors have expressed their displeasure and are even helping others leave the school, is no fan of journalism.
He even censors his own campus newspaper to prevent students from investigating his corrupt administration (which is an admission of guilt if there ever was one).
Back in April, when Falwell said Liberty would open back up well before anyone said that was safe, reporters came to campus to speak with students and cover what was obviously a valid story. Falwell was furious, using campus police to issue arrest warrants against both the news site ProPublica and a freelancer for the New York Times.
That freelancer, photographer Julia Rendleman, is now telling her side of the story in the Times, explaining how Falwell’s threat temporarily upended her life even though she did absolutely nothing wrong.
While she received lots of support online (and plenty of unwarranted hate), she worried about what would happen if a judge sided with Falwell:
The maximum sentence for trespassing was a year in jail. I thought about the permanent damage my incarceration would probably do to my sons.
The night the news broke, I didn’t sleep at all. My muscles were tense and I was out of my mind with worry. I thought about how much better it would be just to go back the week before when the worst thing that was happening to me was trying to raise my boys in the middle of a pandemic.
Falwell messed with her life for the “crime” of doing her job.
She says that the case was later dismissed by the prosecutor. It’s possible Falwell wanted to unleash the threat more than actually act on it, but that would only reveal his true character. Not only does he want his critics to suffer, he wants journalists who are simply documenting what he’s doing to suffer.
Rendleman, by the way, is a believer. She writes about how she prayed to God to make things better.
She also adds that she now needs explicit permission from Falwell before ever setting foot on Liberty’s campus again. Which is more than enough to demonstrate not only how cowardly Falwell is, but that there is clearly something he thinks is worth hiding.
(Screenshot via YouTube)