UPDATE: 10 p.m. ET Aug. 24: In an interview with Politico Monday evening, Jerry Falwell Jr. denied reports that he has resigned as president and chancellor of Liberty University. He clarified that he is on "indefinite leave" after the Associated Press cited a school official earlier in the day to report that Falwell had resigned.
Jerry Falwell Jr. has rejected a report that he has stepped down from his position as president of Liberty University after a school official told the Associated Press Monday that he had resigned.
The news comes after Giancarlo Granda claimed in an explosive report that contrary to claims by Falwell, the evangelical leader knew about Granda's sexual affair with his wife, Rebecca, and liked watching them together.
“Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda, 29, told Reuters in an interview published Monday.
Granda’s interview comes after Falwell, who was on an “indefinite leave of absence” from the Christian college after a series of public embarrassing acts, revealed Sunday that his wife, Rebecca, 53, had an affair with Granda eight years ago and claimed that Granda then blackmailed his family. Falwell said he knew nothing about the affair and was never involved.
“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 a statement to the Washington Examiner late Sunday.
Granda, who claims his liaisons with Rebecca Falwell were frequent — happening “multiple times per year” — said they would meet at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.
The son of immigrants from Cuba and Mexico, Granda said he was 20 when he first met the Falwells while working as a “pool boy” at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. That relationship would eventually result in the Falwells investing in a gay-friendly youth hostel they purchased in 2013 for $4.7 million.
Granda showed Reuters verified evidence suggesting that his relationship with Rebecca Falwell came with her husband’s blessing. The evidence includes screenshots from what Granda said was a FaceTime conversation he had with the Falwells in 2019. Granda said Becki was naked during the call as they discussed their relationship while her husband peeked from behind a door.
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Granda also shared an audio recording that he said is part of a conversation he had with the Falwells in 2018. In the audio, Rebecca complained about Granda describing his relationships with other people: “He’s like telling me every time he hooks up with people. Like I don’t have feelings or something.” Falwell interjected: “You’re going to make her jealous.” Granda replied: “I’m not trying to do that,” according to Reuters.
While he accepts that he was a voluntary participant in the relationship he had with the Falwells, Granda said he now feels like they preyed on him in hindsight.
“Whether it was immaturity, naïveté, instability, or a combination thereof, it was this ‘mindset’ that the Falwells likely detected in deciding that I was the ideal target for their sexual escapades,” he told Reuters.
Liberty University officials did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Christian Post on Monday but a number of Christians online shared their thoughts on Granda’s revelations.
“Our God will not be mocked. May God heal and restore all who have been harmed,” tweeted Karen Swallow Prior, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary research professor of English, Christianity and Culture who previously taught at Liberty University for more than two decades.
Liberal Pastor John Pavlovitz tweeted, “Jerry Falwell blocked me three years ago because I suggested his alignment with Trump and his using of @LibertyU to shill for a party—wasn't exactly Jesus of Nazareth stuff. I think I'm OK he took issue with me.”
Liberty University was founded by Falwell's father in the 1970s.