Jerry Falwell Jr. has resigned as president of Liberty University following disturbing allegations about a sexual relationship with a business partner and criticism over a since-deleted Instagram post showing Falwell with his pants unbuttoned.
Falwell had been put on leave two weeks ago after he posted a picture of himself with his pants undone, a cup of dark liquid in his hands and his arm around a woman who is said to be his wife’s assistant and also had her pants unbuttoned, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The board put me on leave, took away my duties as prez, and that’s not permitted by my contract,” Falwell said Monday night.
“And they put me on leave because of pressure from self-righteous people.”
Although he admitted the Instagram post was stupid, he told The Wall Street Journal he had done nothing wrong.
“I’ve put 50 years of my life into this school,” Falwell said. “Nobody else could have built it from zero when my dad died into a $4 billion school.”
Liberty University officials said in a statement that Falwell had agreed to resign earlier on Monday but then reversed course. Falwell then confirmed Tuesday that he had resigned, according to the Washington Post.
“The Executive Committee’s Board of Trustees asked Falwell to go on indefinite leave of absence on August 7, to which he agreed,” a statement from the office of communications and public engagement read.
“Since that time, additional matters came to light that made it clear that it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President.”
The “additional matters” referenced by the university could be related to the allegations published by Reuters Monday outlining a years-long sexual relationship between the evangelical leader, his wife, Becki Falwell, and his business partner Giancarlo Granda.
Granda told Reuters that he met the Falwells when he was 20 while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012.
Starting that month through 2018, Granda said his relationship with the couple involved him having sexual relations with Becki Falwell as Jerry Falwell looked on.
“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said.
In his allegations, Granda provided audio from phone calls and screenshots from FaceTime calls.
Prior to the release of Reuters’ report, Falwell released a statement that said Granda had an affair with Becki without his involvement.
“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved — it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” he told the Washington Examiner.
Falwell added that Granda was “aggressive” and threatened “to share more outrageous and fabricate claims about us.”
Granda denied the claim and said, “any allegation of extortion is falsely, defamatory and belied by clear documentary evidence.”
“The Falwell’s attempt to sandbag me, and the Examiner, with a last minute story without providing the Examiner clear evidence that this was not simply an ‘affair’ with concocted allegations of extortion reeks desperation. The WHOLE truth will come out.”
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