Jerry Falwell Jr., a towering figure of the anti-LGBTQ+ evangelical movement, has resigned as president of Liberty University, the fundamentalist Christian school founded by his father, after a day of back-and-forth about whether he was leaving.
His resignation comes after a series of scandals, including a recent Reuters report that he watched his wife, Becki, have sex with another man as part of a years-long relationship between the three individuals.
Falwell agreed to resign Monday, a university official confirmed to The Washington Post. He had been on indefinite leave of absence from the school since early August. But Falwell later told Politico he had not resigned, and a university spokesman said negotiations were ongoing. Falwell then told the Post he had resigned but the matter was "still up in the air." Then Tuesday, Falwell formally tendered his resignation and the university's board of trustees accepted it, CNN reports.
Reuters Monday published an interview with Giancarlo Granda (pictured, left), who says he was a 20-year-old Miami Beach, Fla., pool attendant when he met the Falwells. The relationship lasted for years as the three became entangled in business and sexual affairs, according to Granda. The Falwells cut ties with Granda as their business arrangement, which included purchasing Granda a Miami Beach hostel, soured.
Falwell told the Post the story was not true. He had given a statement to the Washington Examiner Sunday saying Becki had had an "inappropriate personal relationship" with the man other sources identified as Granda, but said he was not involved. He also said Granda was trying to blackmail the couple, something Granda denied.
Falwell was recently placed on an indefinite leave of absence from his role running the influential (and anti-LGBTQ+) Liberty University in Virginia; that decision followed Falwell posting a picture of himself standing with a young woman with both their pants unzipped. Falwell's latest scandal further threatens his career and undermines his political influence. The son of evangelical icon Rev. Jerry Falwell, Falwell Jr. is a Donald Trump acolyte who helped Trump secure the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Granda's claims will certainly complicate Becki Falwell's ambitions. Referred to as the "First Lady of Liberty University," Becki is on the Women for Trump advisory board.
Becki Falwell has not commented on Granda's charges, but Falwell Jr. claims Becki had an extramarital affair with Granda, in which he had no part.
Many are reveling in the hypocrisy of the Falwells allegedly taking part in what some call a "throuple." Not only are the Falwells avid Trump supporters, but Liberty University bans same-sex relationships and does not recognize the gender identity of transgender students. Falwell himself routinely demeans LGBTQ+ people.
In addition to Falwell's dealings with Granda, he also approved a real estate deal in 2019 allowing his 23-year-old male personal trainer to obtain a fitness facility that previously belonged to Liberty University. Additionally, Falwell was criticized this year for allowing some students back on the Liberty campus during the COVID-19 crisis.