Jerry Falwell, Jr. has agreed to a Liberty University Board of Trustees request that he “take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University,” according to the school.
Statement from Liberty Univ.: “The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 7, 2020
This move is effective immediately.
The move came less than 24 hours after Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) added his voice to the growing calls Falwell to step down.
“Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling,” tweeted the vice-chair of the House Republican Caucus. “As a Music Faculty Advisory Board Member and former instructor [at Liberty University], I’m convinced Falwell should step down.”
“None of us are perfect, but students, faculty, alumni and [the Liberty University choir] deserve better,” Walker, who was a baptist pastor prior to his political career, explained.
Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling.
As a Music Faculty Advisory Board Member and former instructor @LibertyU, I’m convinced Falwell should step down.
None of us are perfect, but students, faculty, alumni and @LUPraise deserve better.
— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) August 6, 2020
Falwell on Wednesday apologized for posting a photo of him in unzipped pants and arm around a woman — but also defended the incident as a vacation “costume party” on a yacht that was “just in good fun.”
The now-deleted viral photo showed Falwell, a leading evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump, with his pants unzipped and his underwear showing beneath, while he had one arm around a woman’s waist whose shorts also appeared to be unbuttoned and his other holding a glass with a dark-colored liquid.
Politico notes: “The posting — which was quickly withdrawn — drew a sharp backlash and charges of hypocrisy because the evangelical university that he leads prohibits students from having sexual relations outside of a ‘biblically-ordained’ marriage and consuming media with lewd lyrics, sexual content and nudity. The university’s policy also counsels ‘appropriateness’ and ‘modesty’ in how students must dress.”
“I’ve apologized to everybody,” Falwell said in an interview on the Morningline show on WLNI 105.9FM, a local radio station in Lynchburg, Va. “And I’ve promised my kids I’m going to try to be — I’m gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Falwell described the woman in the photo as his “wife’s assistant.” On his Instagram account, Falwell tagged a picture of the woman as Kathleen Stone, who lists on her Facebook account that she works for Liberty University.
“She’s a sweetheart and I should never have put it up and embarrassed her,” Falwell said.
“She’s pregnant so she couldn’t get her — she couldn’t get her pants up,” he said. “And I was like, trying to like — my — I had on pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn in a long time so I couldn’t get mine zipped either. And so — and so — I just put my belly — I just put my belly out like hers,” he explained.
The photo of Falwell appeared to be a parody of the comedy TV show “Trailer Park Boys,” a fact that was supported by a newly surfaced video taken during the party, set to the theme music of the show, that shows Falwell and other yacht guests in costume.
The video appears to have been taken by someone on the yacht. The video shows guests drinking, dancing, lounging around, and pretending to smoke cigarettes. In the background of one shot are a bunch of empty red Solo cups and a shirtless man.
Asked about the reference to the TV show during the interview on Wednesday, Falwell said: “Whatever. It was a costume party on a — we were on vacation. And, anyway, long story short it was just in good fun. That’s it.”
Falwell has come under fire in recent months for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic regarding students being on campus.
Some athletes also left the university in the wake of President Jerry Falwell, Jr. tweeting against Governor Ralph Northam, using an image allegedly of Northam in blackface from Northam’s college yearbook. At least one campus professor also resigned.
“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.