“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,” Acting Liberty President Jerry Prevo said in a news release late Monday.
Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence since Aug. 7, following an uproar about a photo he posted on social media, and then deleted, showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and arm high around the waist of his wife’s pregnant assistant.
“Since that time, additional matters came to light that made it clear that it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President,” according to the news release, which said the school’s board was meeting Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, a school official revealed to The Washington Post that Falwell agreed to resign as president of the university, which he had recently placed in the spotlight due to Falwell’s personal life.
The announcements came a day after the Christian leader admitted he was seeking help for the “emotional toll” of an affair his wife had with a man who he says later threatened his family.
Falwell issued a lengthy statement to The Washington Examiner on Sunday, publicly disclosing the affair and saying 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.”
“Over the course of the last few months this person’s behavior has reached a level that we have decided the only way to stop this predatory behavior is to go public,” said the statement, which was provided to The Associated Press on 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 the Lynchburg university founded by his late father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.
In his statement, Falwell said he and his wife met the man she had an affair with during a vacation more than 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.
The statement did not identify the person, but The Examiner identified him as Giancarlo Granda, whose ties to the Falwells have been documented in news stories in recent years by numerous media outlets.
Granda told The Examiner “any allegation of extortion" is false, "defamatory and belied by clear documentary evidence.”
In a statement to the AP, he 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. The truth is coming soon.”
Granda’s connection to the Falwells dates to 2012, and the following year he took on partial ownership of a hostel in Miami’s party-friendly South Beach neighborhood that was purchased by members of the Falwell family, according to multiple media reports. That business transaction, itself a surprising move for the president of a conservative evangelical university, sparked legal jostling over ownership that later involved Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer.
Cohen divulged in recordings first reported by Reuters last year that he helped the Falwells handle an issue surrounding personal photographs of Becki Falwell that the family wished to regain possession of.
Nonetheless, what has become known as the "pool boy" story surrounding Falwell — Granda worked as a pool attendant in Miami — is just one of the multiple factors Liberty's board must examine as it prepares to decide on his future at the school.
Liberty’s general counsel, David Corry, who acts as a spokesman for Liberty’s board, said the group had no comment beyond a statement issued Friday. In that statement, the board said the decision whether to retain Falwell had not yet been made.
Falwell said he was seeking mental health counseling amid the “trauma" of the situation and that he remains “fully devoted” to his wife.
The statement said that “while her indiscretion may have been more obvious and apparent, I realized that there were important smaller things I needed to do better too.”