Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. says he has “apologized to everybody” after posting – then quickly deleting – a bizarre photo showing him on a yacht with his pants unzipped and arm around a woman he now claims is his wife’s assistant.
In the photo, both Falwell, who is one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporters, and the woman appear to have their midriffs exposed. The photo also shows Falwell with a drink in his hand. “I promise that’s just black water in my glass,” the Instagram caption added. “It was a prop only.”
Falwell Jr. called in to Virginia radio station WLNI on Wednesday to respond to the backlash.
“You know it was weird, cause she was, she’s pregnant, she couldn’t get her pants up, and I was, trying to like – my, I had on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time so I couldn’t get mine zipped either,” said the president of one of the world’s largest Christian universities on-air.
He continued: “And so I just put my belly – I just put my belly out like hers, and it was just, um, she’s my wife’s assistant and she’s a sweetheart. I should never have put it up and embarrassed her because, um, anyway, I’ve apologized to everybody and I promised my kids, I’m gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Falwell then added that the photo was taken at a “costume party” and was “just in good fun.”
Liberty University has a strict code of conduct for how students must behave at the school, including prohibiting premarital sex and the consumption of media that includes lewd lyrics, anti-Christian messages, sexual content and nudity.
The university also has a dress code for students that reads: “Cleanliness, neatness, appropriateness, and modesty are the general guiding factors with regard to dress.”
“How is this Jerry Falwell Jr. photo even real?” tweeted Meghan McCain in response to the viral photo. “Also if you’re running the largest Christian university in America maybe don’t put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht – with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical.”
S.E. Cupp, the conservative CNN host, tweeted: “There were already so many good reasons not to entrust your kids to Jerry Falwell Jr’s learning institution. The unzipped pants yacht photo – of the school’s PRESIDENT – is sadly the least of them.”
Politico notes: “This is not the first time Falwell has been caught up in controversy over photos that seemingly run counter to the reputation that Liberty University has cultivated as a leading evangelical school. POLITICO last year reported on photos of Falwell visiting a Miami Beach nightclub with his family in July 2014. Falwell claimed that any such photos were ‘photo-shopped.’ ”
“Falwell has also come under scrutiny for past accusations of salacious activity,” reports Relevant Magazine. “There have been reports that President Donald Trump’s one-time fixer-turned-adversary Michael Cohen once briefly attempted to help the Falwells deal with a leak of sexually revealing photos, and photographs of Falwell at a nightclub have surfaced. Falwell has said the images were photoshopped.”
Falwell also drew scrutiny for personally signing off on a real estate transaction by his nonprofit Christian university that helped his hunky personal fitness trainer obtain valuable university property.
The Miami Herald and The New York Times both published reports in 2019 outlining the details of a bizarre scandal involving a lawsuit between a Miami Beach “pool boy” and the Fallwells.