A photographer has pushed back against any suggestion that images he captured of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. at a Miami Beach nightclub in July 2014 were photo-shopped as the Christian college leader admitted Wednesday to being at the club for about 30 minutes.
“For 21 years, I have maintained an impeccable reputation for documenting Miami Beach’s storied social scene. We wholly reject Jerry Falwell Jr.’s baseless allegation in yesterday’s Politico report by Brandon Ambrosino that one of our pictures was ‘photo-shopped’ or manipulated in any fashion,” Seth Browarnik, owner of photography company World Red Eye, said in a statement Tuesday.
“We, in fact, did not know Politico’s purpose for licensing the image and were as surprised as anyone to discover that Mr. Falwell was among the partygoers we photographed on July 19, 2014 at WALL Lounge. As a result, we reviewed all the images we have from the event and discovered an additional four photos that include Mr. Falwell and two more of his son,” the photographer noted showing copies of the additional pictures.
In a statement to Politico, Jerry Falwell allegedly denied the existence of any photo of him at the club in an in-depth report by LU graduate Ambrosino that purports to paint a "culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world."
“There was no picture snapped of me at WALL nightclub or any other nightclub,” Falwell told the publication. “I’m sure you already knew that though.”
When Ambrosino informed Falwell that he had a photo of him at the club, Falwell said Ambrosino was “terribly mistaken.”
“If you show me the picture, I can probably help you out,” Falwell wrote to Ambrosino. “I think you are making some incorrect assumptions, or have been told false things or are seeing something that was photo--shopped.”
After he was shown photos of himself as well as his son Trey at the club however, Falwell replied: “I never asked anyone to get rid of any pictures on the internet of me and I never have seen the picture you claim is of me below. If the person in the picture is me, it was likely photo-shopped.”
Falwell also told Hill.TV on Tuesday that he is now sharing information with the FBI to investigate what he calls a criminal conspiracy against him by former board members at the school who leaked internal Liberty University emails cited in the Politico report.
“Our attorneys have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they’re involved in a criminal conspiracy, are working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters," Falwell said.
He called the sharing of the internal emails part of a failed effort among former board of director members to remove him from leadership.
Cybercrime expert Nick Akerman told AP that Falwell's criminal case is "totally insane."
When he took over the school after his father died, Falwell said, the school was struggling financially and the board members were hoping they could use that as an excuse to “take over.” He took the school, however, and made it into the profitable operation it is today.
"They came here thinking that Liberty would remain in financial difficulty. Instead I’ve been able to build a $2 billion unrestricted endowment," Falwell said.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning Falwell admitted he was at the nightclub but didn't back away from his claim that the photos of him at the nightclub were likely fake.
“Just for the record, I never denied going into a club with my family to listen to music for about 30 minutes years ago. I only denied I asked anyone to scrub pics of me. I never knew of any pics until a week ago DUH. LU’s lawyers and criminal authorities will go after the leakers.”
When asked by a CP editor on Twitter whether that meant the photos were not fake, Falwell replied, "Maybe it was photoshopped, I don’t know. But you’re missing the point: I never denied I was there 5 years ago. #FactsMatter"
Falwell later retweeted that response.