Falwell Jr. to leave university after personal scandal

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on August 25, 2020 - Duration: 02:17s

Falwell Jr. to leave university after personal scandal

Jerry Falwell Jr., a leading U.S. evangelical Christian whose endorsement played a key role in President Donald Trump's 2016 victory, has resigned as president of Liberty University, the school said on Tuesday.

This report produced by Jonah Green.

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Falwell Jr. to leave university after personal scandal

Jerry Falwell Jr. has resigned as president of Liberty University after Reuters reported that one of his business partner's claimed he had a years-long sexual relationship involving Falwell's wife and the evangelical leader.

Falwell's departure represents a remarkable fall from grace for a man who has been a potent force in American conservative politics.

It was the early endorsement of the evangelical leader that helped thrice-married New York reality TV star Donald Trump win evangelical voters in a crowded Republican field in 2016.

Falwell, who served as Liberty's president for over a decade, had initially agreed to resign immediately following Monday's Reuters report, but then changed his mind following other media reports about his decision, according to the university.

He did not respond to a request for comment.

A business partner of the Falwells', Giancarlo Granda, told Reuters that for years he would frequently have sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.

Granda, who met the couple when he was a 20-year-old pool attendant at a Miami beach hotel, shared with Reuters texts and other material that he said supported his account, including this audio clip from 2018 from a phone call with Becki and Jerry Falwell and Granda.

BECKI: "He's like telling me every time he hooks up with people.

Like I don't have feelings or something." JERRY: "You're going to make her jealous." GRANDA: "I'm not trying to do that." On Sunday night, as Reuters was preparing to publish the article, Jerry Falwell issued a statement in which he said Becki Falwell had had an affair with Granda.

Becki Falwell did not respond to questions from Reuters.

The Falwell scandal is unlikely to change Trump's strong support among evangelicals.

A June survey by the Pew Research Center showed that a strong majority of white evangelicals - some 72% of them - approved of Trump's handling of the job, down modestly from 78% in April.

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