UPDATE: A day after he denied reports that he had resigned from Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. has, in fact, resigned as the school’s president. “It’s a relief,” he told local reporter Richard Chumney. “The quote that keeps going through my mind this morning is Martin Luther Ling Jr.: ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.'”
Falwell says he’s completely moving on from Liberty.
“I see a role in other areas, I don’t know what it is yet but I’m not done. This happened for a reason.”
— Richard Chumney (@RichChumney) August 25, 2020
UPDATE: Despite earlier reports citing Liberty University officials, Jerry Falwell Jr. said on Monday that he is not resigning as president of the evangelical university.
New: Jerry Falwell Jr. tells me he is NOT leaving his post, despite indications from Liberty that he will do so. "I have not resigned," Falwell says.
— Maggie Severns (@MaggieSeverns) August 24, 2020
Stand by for whatever the hell is going to happen next in the Falwell saga.
UPDATE: Hours after the Washington Examiner published a statement in which he said his wife had a sexual relationship with Giancarlo Granda, the Miami Beach pool boy they befriended in 2012, Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as president of Liberty University, the evangelical school he had led since 2007.
Falwell Jr.’s resignation was first reported by Religion News Service.
In addition to the Washington Examiner publishing Falwell Jr.’s statement on Monday, Reuters reported that Falwell Jr. participated in the love affair between Granda and his wife. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda told Reuters of the encounters, which he says took place multiple times per year at various locations.
In his statement, Falwell Jr. claimed he was “not involved” in the sexual relationship.
Original story below.
Are you sitting down? You might want to sit down for this one.
Remember how Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife befriended a Miami Beach pool boy named Giancarlo Grand when he was 21 years old, invited him to travel with them on several occasions, and gave him nearly $2 million to finance a business venture?
Well, it seems as if that relationship wasn’t entirely platonic.
According to a statement Falwell provided to the Washington Examiner, the disgraced Liberty University president’s recent erratic behavior — including posting to Instagram a photo of himself with his pants unzipped and his arm around his wife’s assistant — is the result of the mental trauma sustained from his wife’s “inappropriate personal relationship” with Granda.
Falwell claims he was “not involved” in the sexual affair, which caused him to lose 80 pounds and take on “pain and stress” that he’s now addressing. Quoting the Bible multiple times, Falwell writes that he has forgiven both his wife and Granda, whom he casts as someone who victimized the Falwells. “We believe that he may have targeted other successful women in similar ways,” Falwell writes.
Again, Granda was only 21 when the Falwells befriended him in Miami Beach.
Following the affair, Falwell alleges that Granda attempted to blackmail him into giving him money, or else he would reveal the nature of the relationship publicly. Falwell says he was advised by his lawyer to remain engaged with Granda rather than breaking off contact, and that the ordeal has been “like a roller coaster.” But in recent months Granda’s behavior has become so aggressive, Falwell claims, that he had no other choice to go public. The dubious implication here is that Granda, not Falwell’s Instagram post and subsequent decision to step down as Liberty University’s president, is what prompted this statement.
The Falwells met Granda in 2012, after which the “ambitious young man,” as Falwell describes him in the statement released Monday, began traveling with the couple. The Falwells later gave Granda $1.8 million to open up a hostel in Miami Beach, despite Granda having no prior business experience. Politico would later call the hostel a “cesspool of vice.” A lawsuit followed. It was a mess, especially for a Christian leader who presides over the nation’s largest evangelical university.
Or he presided over it until earlier this month, when the Liberty University announced that it had been “mutually agreed that it would be good for him to take an indefinite leave of absence.” The decision came days after Falwell posted a series of “vacation shots” to Instagram, including one in which he had his arm around the waist of his wife’s pregnant assistant, and a drink in his other hand (Falwell claimed it was “black water” and only “a prop”). Both of their pants were unzipped. The post was quickly deleted.
“Yeah, it was weird,” Falwell told a local radio station. “She’s pregnant. She couldn’t get her pants zipped and I was like trying to like … I had on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time and couldn’t get zipped either. So, I just put my belly out like hers. She’s my wife’s assistant, she’s a sweetheart. I should have never put it up and embarrassed her. I’ve apologized to everybody. I promised my kids I will try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Falwell did not directly address the Instagram photo in the statement provided to the Washington Examiner, only alluding to mental health issues brought upon by his wife’s affair. “The trauma of this experience has brought us to a very challenging point in our lives, but we are strong, our faith in Christ is greater than ever, and with His help and with those in the community who we love and who appreciate the impact of forgiveness, we will get through this,” he concluded. “We ask for your prayers and support.”
This post has been updated.