Suspended Liberty University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. confirmed to Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard late Sunday that his wife, Becki Falwell, had an affair with a young man they befriended and went into business with in Florida eight years ago. In a long statement, Falwell said he and his wife “forgave each other” — he suggested he had also “important smaller things” to atone for, quoting a Bible verse about visual adultery — and had decided to come forward because his wife’s former lover had been extorting them for “huge amounts of monies” to stay quiet. “I’m just tired of it,” Falwell told Bedard.
Falwell said the young man — Giancarlo Granda — had created a “‘fatal attraction’ type situation,” referring to a famous 1987 movie in which a jilted extramarital lover boiled a pet rabbit, among other acts of retaliatory intimidation. Granda, 21 at the time of the affair, told the Examiner in an email that “any allegation of extortion” is false, “defamatory, and belied by clear documentary evidence,” adding that the attempt by the Falwells “to sandbag me” with this “last-minute story” just “reeks of desperation,” and “the WHOLE truth will come out.”
The salacious nature of the relationship between the Falwells and Granda emerged when Michael Cohen, the former fixer and lawyer for President Trump, told comedian Tom Arnold in a secretly taped conversation that he had destroyed risqué “personal” photographs involving the “pool boy” on behalf of Falwell weeks before Falwell unexpectedly endorsed Trump for president.
Falwell said Sunday he “was not involved” in his wife’s “inappropriate personal relationship” with Granda, and mentioned “fantastic” and “prurient, untrue aspects” of the relationship “based on the individual’s misrepresentations.”
Liberty University, a conservative evangelical Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., confirmed Friday that Falwell has been placed on indefinite paid suspension while the university investigates “various rumors and claims” about him and decides if he will be fired. He makes about $1 million a year as president of Liberty University, The News & Advance reports.
Falwell, 58, has been on leave since apologizing for posting (then deleting) a photo of himself with his arm around a woman, both their pants partially unzipped, at a “Trailer Park Boys” costume party on a 164-foot, six-bedroom yacht owned by NASCAR mogul Rick Hendrick. Falwell’s family has reportedly been taking family vacations on the yacht since Liberty University signed a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal with Hendrick Motorsports.