Liberty University says it has accepted Jerry Falwell Jr.’s resignation as president following allegations of sexual impropriety. The evangelical college in Lynchburg, Virginia, said in a statement Tuesday that Falwell will no longer serve as its president and chancellor, and will step down from its board of directors, “effective immediately.”
The announcement came after a day of Reuters report alleging Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, had a longtime sexual relationship with a business associate while Falwell looked on.about Falwell’s status. A Liberty spokesman said late Monday that Falwell had agreed to resign, but “following media reports about the resignation, withdrew it.” That followed a
Giancarlo Granda, 29, told Reuters he was 20 years old when he became involved with the couple. Granda, a former pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, said his relationship with the Falwells soured, in part, when he wanted to end the relationship and exit their business partnership.
Falwell issued a statement to the Washington Examiner on Sunday night denying any misconduct with Granda. Falwell said his wife had an affair with Granda and claimed that Granda was now trying to extort the couple.
“Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved,” Falwell told the Examiner.
Granda denied extorting the couple, telling Reuters that he was trying to negotiate an end to his business partnership with the Falwells.
According to Liberty spokesman Scott Lamb, Falwell agreed to resign immediately on Monday, but then instructed his attorneys to not tender the letter for immediate resignation.
The university said in a statement Tuesday, that “after agreeing yesterday to immediately resign then reversing course,” an attorney for Falwell then “sent the resignation letter late last night to members of the Board’s Executive Committee pursuant to the terms of his contract of employment.”
Liberty’s board voted unanimously to accept Falwell’s resignations on Tuesday, according to the university.
“The Executive Committee met this morning and voted to accept all the resignations immediately and recommend ratification to the full Board,” according to the university’s statement. “Later this morning, the full Board gathered via conference call and unanimously voted to affirm the decision of the Executive Committee.”
Falwell, who is 58, has been on leave from Liberty since earlier this month after he posted a photo on his Instagram account with his pants unzipped, holding a beer and with his arm around a pregnant woman whose shorts were also unzipped and belly exposed. While Falwell apologized and said it was from a “costume party,” Liberty University bars alcohol consumption and has a strict code of conduct.
Following the board’s vote to remove Falwell, Liberty’s acting chairman Dr. Allen McFarland said in a statement that the university’s “future is very bright and in capable hands of leaders who are committed to being good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted!”
Falwell assumed the role of Liberty president from his father, founder Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., and built the school into a much larger and more prosperous institution. He also became a strongduring his 2016 campaign and helped solidify his base among evangelical voters.
The school’s board will select a search committee for its new president while Jerry Prevo continues on as acting president, according to the university’s statement.
Liberty said Tuesday that its “heartfelt prayers are with (Falwell) and his family as he steps away from his life’s work.
Caroline Linton contributed to this report.