Liberty University

A student walks across Liberty University’s campus in this file photo from Sept. 6, 2019. Two LU employees have tested positive for COVID-19, two are awaiting test results and seven have been asked to self-quarantine, the university announced Wednesday night.

Lynchburg prosecutors on Friday announced they will not pursue criminal charges against two journalists who Liberty University police accused of trespassing on campus while covering the school’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison said the journalists — Alec MacGillis, a reporter for ProPublica; and Julia Rendleman, a freelance photographer for The New York Times — violated the misdemeanor trespassing statute when they made unauthorized visits to campus in late March. 

But Harrison's office decided not to pursue the case in court after consulting with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

“There is certainly probable cause here to charge these two individuals based on their actions and the law of Virginia,” Harrison said. “But we are electing not to proceed with the criminal prosecution given the input that we have from our victim.”

Harrison said Falwell was “satisfied with having the reporters understand they have to respect the no trespassing signs.”

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates. 

Richard Chumney covers Liberty University for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5547.

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