Official says Jerry Falwell Jr. leaving Liberty; Falwell denies report

Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 19:42:23-04

LYNCHBURG, Va. - A senior Liberty University official says Jerry Falwell Jr. has resigned from his leadership post at the evangelical Virginia college. The official spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because he was not authorized to discuss the resignation.

However, Falwell said in an interview with a local news outlet that he has not agreed to leave permanently and that the reports are "completely false." The confusion erupted amid allegations about Falwell's wife’s sexual encounters with a much younger business partner.

Falwell was already on a leave of absence from the evangelical Lynchburg, Va., school his father founded following a series of personal issues.

Over the weekend, Falwell issued a lengthy statement disclosing the “emotional toll” an affair his wife had with a man was having on him. He says the man, identified by media reports as a former pool attendant and later a business partner of Falwell and his wife, threatened to reveal the relationship “to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies.”

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.

Falwell, an early and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, has been on an indefinite leave since early August as president and chancellor of Liberty founded by his late father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.

He stepped down after an uproar sparked by a photo he posted on social media that 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.