Culture

UPDATED: Jerry Falwell Jr. Belatedly Resigns From Liberty University After Initially Denying Reports

(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Updates below. 

On Monday, Liberty University President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. reportedly resigned hours after news of yet another scandal broke. According to Reuters, Falwell’s wife slept with one of the university president’s business partners while Falwell looked on.

“Three sources affiliated with the [Liberty University] board of trustees and administration tell me that Jerry Falwell Jr has just submitted his resignation,” Jonathan Merritt, a contributing editor at The Week and contributor to The Atlantic, tweeted Monday afternoon.

Liberty officials turned on Falwell last year, painting a picture of corruption under his leadership. Recently, Falwell posted a picture of himself with a young lady — and both of their pants were unzipped.

The resignation came hours after Reuters published a salacious story about Falwell’s sex life.

“Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on,” Reuters’ Aram Roston reported. “Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987.”

“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda told Reuters. He described the liaisons as frequent — “multiple times a year.” He said he slept with Falwell’s wife at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.

Falwell appeared to confirm the affair in an interview with The Washington Examiner on Monday.

Falwell reportedly has a net worth of $100 million.

Update 10:00 p.m.:

Falwell has disputed the report that he has resigned from Liberty University.

“I have not resigned,” he told Politico. When asked how the news reports of him resigning had gotten out, he said, “I don’t know.”

“I have not resigned. I will be on indefinite leave,” he added.

A Liberty University spokesperson had earlier confirmed to Politico that a statement clarifying Falwell’s resignation would be “forthcoming.” Yet later on Monday evening, the spokesperson declined to comment. “I cannot say anything and I can only give a statement from the Board if they give me a statement.”

The Washington Examiner‘s Siraj Hashmi tweeted that Falwell “prefers to go down swinging.”

Or, as my PJ Media colleague Ed Driscoll told me, “he’s apparently in Schrödinger’s Swinger mode right now.”

Falwell’s resignation may indeed be forthcoming, but the question remains, has Falwell realized it yet?

Update August 25, 3:15 p.m.:

After initially contradicting the news that he had resigned from Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. belatedly acknowledged that he had, in fact, resigned, the Associated Press reported.

The school cleared up the confusion. While Falwell had initially offered to resign on Monday, hours after the Reuters report, he reversed course later, and started telling news oulets he had no intention of leaving. On Tuesday, he faced the music, resigning from his roles as president, chancellor, and member of the board.

“That’s the only reason I resigned: because I don’t want something my wife did to harm the school I’ve spent my whole life building,” Falwell told the AP. “I never broke a single rule that applies to staff members at Liberty, which I was. So I want everybody to know that.”

Falwell’s wife Becki told the AP she and her husband are “more in love than ever. We have the strongest relationship and Jerry is the most forgiving person I’ve ever met. It’s a shame that Christians can’t give us the same forgiveness that Christ gave us.”

Falwell had already been on leave since earlier this month after the photo showing him and his wife’s pregnant assistant with their pants unzipped.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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