Liberty University says Falwell offered to step down as president, then withdrew resignation

Evangelical school's leadership to meet Tuesday to try to resolve status.

Updated: August 25, 2020 - 12:16am

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Liberty University said Monday night that Jerry Falwell Jr. had agreed to step down as the school's president after a string of controversies but then withdrew the resignation, leaving his status uncertain.

The evangelical Christian university said its executive committee and Board of Directors plans a meeting Tuesday to resolve the matter.

"On the first day of classes of Liberty University’s fall term, Jerry Falwell, Jr., agreed to resign as its President and from its Board of Directors, but following media reports about the resignation, withdrew it," the school said in a statement. "The Executive Committee will go forward with its meeting in the morning followed by the full Board."

Acting President Jerry Prevo was quoted in the school's release as saying “I call upon the University community and supporters to be in prayer for the University and for all its leadership, past, present and future, as we walk with the Lord through this stormy time of transition.”

Falwell had already taken a leave of absence earlier this month over a racy photo he posted on social media when new allegations surfaced that he was being extorted in connection with an extra-marital affairs his wife Becki had.

Falwell told The Washington Examiner on Sunday that the man involved had been threatening to reveal the relationship “to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies.”

The university in Lynchburg, Virginia, was founded by Falwell's father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.

The photo Falwell Jr. posted on social media showed him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and arm high around the waist of a woman who was not his wife. Falwell has said the photo was taken at a costume party during a family vacation.

In his statement, Falwell said he and his wife met the man she had an affair with during a vacation over eight years ago. The man was working at the hotel where the Falwells stayed, the statement said.

“Shortly thereafter, Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell said in the statement. He declined further comment when reached Monday, according to the Associated Press.

The statement did not identify the person. However, in a statement to wire service, Giancarlo Granda – whose ties to the Falwells have been documented in news stories in recent years – said he had been working with an “investigative team” and accused the Falwells of “attempting to get ahead of the story by creating a false narrative."

Granda’s connection to the Falwells dates to 2012, and the following year he took on partial ownership of a hostel in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood that was purchased by members of the Falwell family, according to multiple media reports.

The business transaction sparked legal jostling over ownership that later involved Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the wire service also reports.

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