NEWS RELEASE UPDATE: Lynchburg, VA—The Liberty University Board of Trustees acted today to accept the resignation of Jerry Falwell, Jr. as its President and Chancellor and also accepted his resignation from its Board of Directors. All were effective immediately.
After agreeing yesterday to immediately resign then reversing course, Falwell, through an attorney, sent the resignation letter late last night to members of the Board’s Executive Committee pursuant to the terms of his contract of employment. The Executive Committee met this morning and voted to accept all the resignations immediately and recommend ratification to the full Board. Later this morning, the full Board gathered via conference call and unanimously voted to affirm the decision of the Executive Committee. Falwell’s severance compensation was dictated by the terms of his pre-existing employment agreement without any adjustment by the University or its Board.
The Board, composed of a mix of alumni, pastors and business executives, active and retired, used most of its meeting to focus forward on the university’s future and steps that could be taken to ensure it remained true to its mission. The Board set its next meeting in Lynchburg to select a search committee for its new President.
Acting Board Chairman Dr. Allen McFarland, said, “I am so encouraged by the unity of Christ that I saw exemplified by our Board today. Liberty University’s future is very bright and in capable hands of leaders who are committed to being good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted!”
Jerry Prevo, who will stay on as Acting President, said, “Our students are ready to be world changers as Champions for Christ. Their spirit is strong as they look to the future. I intend to do all I can to nurture their spiritual side as they grow academically and enjoy all our campus has to offer.”
Falwell was the fourth president of Liberty University, assuming the role after his father, Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr.,passed away in 2007. He previously served as the university’s general counsel. During his time as president, Falwell Jr. oversaw more than $1 billion of ongoing or planned construction as the campus was almost entirely transformed with new world-class academic buildings and athletics facilities. He worked with university leadership to achieve record enrollment in residential and online programs, which now stands at over 100,000 students. The university’s heartfelt prayers are with him and his family as he steps away from his life’s work.
PREVIOUS: ABC News reports Falwell submitted a final resignation late Monday night after Liberty had released its statement immediately below; there is no confirmation yet from the University. This follows a day of rapidly developing events, as WFIR’s Evan Jones reports:
PREVIOUS: Statement from Liberty University : On the first day of classes of Liberty University’s fall term, Jerry Falwell, Jr., agreed to resign as its President and from its Board of Directors, but following media reports about the resignation, withdrew it.
The Executive Committee’s Board of Trustees asked Falwell to go on indefinite leave of absence on August 7, to which he agreed. 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. The Executive Committee met this morning and a conference call gathering of the full Board was planned for tomorrow.
Falwell responded by agreeing to resign immediately as President of Liberty University today but then instructed his attorneys to not tender the letter for immediate resignation. The Executive Committee will go forward with its meeting in the morning followed by the full Board.
Acting President Jerry Prevo said, “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.”
Previously: Jerry Falwell Jr., already on indefinite leave from his presidential post at Liberty University, denied tonight that he had officially resigned. “I have not resigned. How did those reports get out? I don’t know,” Falwell told Politico on Monday evening. “I have not resigned. I will be on indefinite leave.” Falwell also said in an interview Monday evening with Virginia Business that such reports are “completely false.”
(Previously) RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned Monday from his leadership post at evangelical Liberty University, according to a school official, amid allegations related to his wife’s sexual encounters with a much younger business partner.
A formal announcement from the school was expected later Monday, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jerry Falwell Jr., currently on a leave of absence as the leader of evangelical Liberty University, has released a statement saying that he is 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. 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.
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.
The statement did not identify the person. However, in a statement to AP, Giancarlo Granda — whose ties to the Falwells have been documented in news stories in recent years — 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.
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 that the decision on whether or not 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.”