Jerry Falwell Jr resigns Liberty University post amid sex scandal

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Reuters

Legend
Jerry Falwell Jr took a leave of absence from Liberty University after posting a photo of himself on Instagram with his pants unzipped


The influential leader of a major evangelical college in the United States has resigned amid allegations about his privacy.

Jerry Falwell Jr took time off earlier this month after posting a photo of himself with unzipped pants on Instagram.

Other scandals have since emerged, including one person who claimed to have had sex involving Mr Falwell Jr and his wife.

Mr. Falwell Jr has now resigned as president of Liberty University.

No official reason has yet been given for his departure.

A strong supporter of US President Donald Trump, he took over college after the death of his father, Jerry Falwell.

Mr. Falwell Sr founded the university in the 1970s as well as the conservative Moral Majority movement.

What are the allegations?

Mr Falwell Jr was already under scrutiny for a photo he posted online earlier this month. He appeared in the image with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman.

The image has sparked outrage and accusations of hypocrisy from both political right and left, and calls on Mr Falwell to resign.

Liberty University asked Falwell to take “indefinite leave” shortly thereafter.

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Alex Wong

Legend

Donald Trump attended the University of Liberty launch in 2017


Other allegations have emerged. Giancarlo Granda, a business partner of Falwell Jr, told Reuters news agency on Monday that he had had a six-year sexual relationship with the evangelical leader and his wife, Becki Falwell.

“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Mr. Granda reportedly said in an interview.

A lawyer for Mr Falwell Jr told Reuters ahead of the publication of their article that his client “categorically denies anything you have indicated that you intend to publish about him.”

On Sunday, Mr. Falwell Jr. released a statement to the Washington Examiner saying his wife had been having an affair and the man involved had threatened to “willfully embarrass my wife, my family and Liberty University.”

He also spoke of the “emotional toll” that the case had had on him.

Before Mr Granda’s allegations and Mr Falwell Jr.’s statement were made public, Liberty University issued a statement on Friday saying it had not yet decided on its future as president.

The college honor code states that “sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural man and a natural woman are not permitted at the University of Liberty.”

Four years ago, Jerry Falwell Jr stunned Christian conservatives by endorsing Donald Trump for president. The religious leader’s backing, given even before the Republican primaries had started, was the first step in the unlikely alliance between the three-time-married New York businessman and the religious right.

In the months that followed, Mr. Falwell Jr. was one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken advocates, advocating on his behalf in debates and on television.

Now, on the eve of the Republican convention, Mr Falwell Jr is absent from the Freedom University presidency, following a series of controversies leading to allegations that he and his wife had an affair with a much younger man.

It will be an unwanted distraction for Republicans and will fuel suggestions that Mr. Falwell Jr.’s endorsement As reported by The New York Times, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen helped Mr. Falwell Jr to cover up previous allegations about this relationship.

The Falwell episode is reminiscent of sex scandals that flowed before prominent evangelical leaders such as Jim Bakker, who in 1987 resigned over allegations of silent payments for alleged rape.

It was Mr. Falwell Jr’s father who took over Bakker’s ministry, calling him a liar, a sexual deviant and “the biggest itch and cancer on the face of Christianity.”

Jerry Fallwell Jr’s current predicament creates an ironic twist of fate.

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