Jerry Falwell Jr. Steps Down as Head of Liberty University

Then-Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. talks to Donald Trump Jr. about his book “Triggered” during convocation at the Christian college last November. (Emily Elconin/The News & Advance via AP, File)

(CN) — Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as president of Liberty University on Tuesday, a day after disputing reports that he would leave amid controversy over his wife’s extramarital affair.

The private Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia, issued a statement Monday night indicating Falwell would resign his post as president and his seat on the school’s board of directors, after it was revealed in a Reuters report he and his wife Becki had been engaged in a seven-year open relationship with their business partner Giancarlo Granda.

Falwell told the Associated Press on Monday that rumors of his departure were “completely false.” Liberty University officials said in their press release that evening Falwell had initially agreed to step down but then reversed course, instructing “his attorneys to not tender the letter for immediate resignation.”

A sign marks the entrance to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

But his attorneys eventually sent in Falwell’s resignation letter late Monday night, and the Liberty University Board of Trustees met Tuesday morning and accepted his resignation, according to an announcement on the school’s website.   

“The university’s heartfelt prayers are with him and his family as he steps away from his life’s work,” the release states.

Falwell, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, said in a statement Sunday he was not involved in the affair, but acknowledged its existence. Granda said his involvement with the Falwells began when he was 20 and working as a pool attendant at a Miami hotel.

“I am now dealing with things in a way that I should have done before,” Falwell said.

Falwell also said Granda’s account, which has become known as the “pool boy” story, was an attempt to financially extort the couple over the affair. But Granda denied these claims and said he sought a buyout from a business arrangement with the couple before going public with his statements.

Jerry Prevo, now acting president of the college, said in a statement Tuesday that Liberty University students are “ready to be world changers” and return to campus. He said the spirit of students “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,” Prevo said.

Falwell is the son of Jerry Falwell Sr., the school’s third president who died in his office in 2007 after suffering a heart attack.  

The younger Falwell previously served as the school’s general counsel before accepting his position as head of the school. He has overseen $1 billion in ongoing or planned construction on campus and has worked to dramatically expand enrollment at the college, with the study body now over 100,000.

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