This seems like an appropriate time to remind everyone that Everything Trump Touches Dies.
To be fair, however, I don’t think this is so much a case of Trump corrupting, but rather, revealing. It takes a certain lack of morality, faith, and/or character to become a full-throated Trump acolyte, to begin with. Sometimes we miss the signs, but given the proper conditions – in this case, the introduction of Trumpism into the national bloodstream – the dreck breaks free and floats to the surface.
And now I give my obligatory reminder that I am an alumna of Liberty University, before launching into this unsurprising piece about the moral failings of Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell, Jr, and his wife, Becki Falwell.
You would think that as the son of Liberty’s founder, Pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr, there would be some sense of responsibility to uphold the professed values of the institution, on Jr’s part.
The school professes to “train up champions for Christ.”
Jr missed the memo.
This saga began over eight years ago, in what, if true, sounds like an almost predatory encounter the Falwells had with a young pool boy.
And for those keeping score, Falwell and his wife were the predators.
Giancarlo Granda says he was 20 when he met Jerry and Becki Falwell while working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel in March 2012. Starting that month and continuing into 2018, Granda told Reuters that the relationship involved him having sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell looked on.
For those who try to keep up with Trump World vernacular, that would make Falwell a “cuck.”
I’ve talked about that unusual relationship in the past. It never did seem quite “right.” It was suspicious from the beginning. The Falwells meet this young man cleaning pools, and the next thing you know, they’ve entered into an expensive business relationship with him, giving him control of a youth hostel in Miami Beach, Florida in 2013 – only a year after meeting.
Their excuse was that they wanted to give a young man a chance to succeed. That’s admirable, if you take it at face value, but why that young man? What were his qualifications? He was a pool boy, and apparently, didn’t have a lot of experience, otherwise.
Then of course, there was his presence with the couple on various trips and outings. Why??
Granda showed Reuters emails, text messages and other evidence that he says demonstrate the sexual nature of his relationship with the couple, who have been married since 1987. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said in an interview. Now 29, he described the liaisons as frequent – “multiple times per year” – and said the encounters took place at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Virginia.
The material Granda showed Reuters includes screenshots from what Granda said was a FaceTime conversation he had with the Falwells in 2019. During that call, Granda said, Becki was naked as the two discussed their relationship while Jerry peeked from behind a door. Reuters was able to verify Granda’s description of the screenshots.
So, is this the kind of behavior that administrators of an alleged “Christian” university should be engaging in?
No, but neither should they be posing with a twice-divorced, profane, adulterous con man, in front of a porn magazine cover, for the world to see. They did that in 2016.
Falwell’s unwavering, often combative support of Donald Trump is becoming less puzzling. Before he announced that support, he met with Michael Cohen, former personal attorney and “fixer” for Trump. According to Cohen, he helped the Falwell’s retrieve some uncomfortable photographs of a “personal” nature. Becki Falwell was the subject of those images.
After that, Falwell was all aboard the Trump train.
What was he hiding?
Granda also shared an audio recording that he says captures a conversation he had with the Falwells in 2018. In it, Becki complained about Granda describing his relationships with other people: “He’s like telling me every time he hooks up with people. Like I don’t have feelings or something.” Jerry then chimed in: “You’re going to make her jealous.” “I’m not trying to do that,” Granda replied.
Earlier texts show a friendly and romantic dynamic between Granda and Becki Falwell. One 2012 text message, which Granda said came from Becki, read in part: “Right now I am just missing you like crazy …. Have you had this effect on all of your lady friends?”
Again, this is coming from the wife of the president of one of the nation’s largest Christian universities.
So why is all of this coming out, now?
It would appear that the relationship became strained, as Granda sought to distance himself from the messy triangle, on both the personal and professional level.
Reuters reveals messages between the pool boy and Falwell, as recently as June:
“Since you’re okay with ruining my life, I am going to take the kamikaze route,” Granda wrote to Jerry Falwell. “It really is a shame because I wanted to reach a peaceful resolution and just move on with our lives but if conflict is what you want, then so be it.
In the same message string, Falwell replied: “You should by now understand that I will not be extorted. I have always treated you fairly and been restrained in response to your threats because I did not wish to ruin your life. Going forward, stop contacting me and my family.”
It’s unclear how this could be particularly bad for Granda, but for the Falwells, it is a distinct fall from grace.
This all comes on the heels of controversial images released several weeks ago. A firestorm was created when Falwell posted to social media multiple images of himself engaged in questionable scenarios, as he partied on a private yacht.
At least one of the images featured Falwell, pants unbuttoned, with his arm around a young woman, wearing unbuttoned cutoff shorts, and a belly top.
Falwell deleted the image, but not before it was captured by social media users. He announced an “indefinite leave of absence” from his position with Liberty, afterwards.
Now, however, it may be more than just a leave of absence.
A statement released late Monday evening by Liberty’s spokesman Scott Lamb said that “matters came to light that made it clear that it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President.” Falwell had been on an indefinite leave of absence from the university since earlier this month, after he posted a controversial vacation photo to social media.
The statement said that Falwell initially had agreed to resign immediately as Liberty’s president, but then “instructed his attorneys to not tender the letter for immediate resignation.” It said board members plan to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the matter.
It’s hard to see how he stays on, after all of this.
Just for reference, page 12 of the Liberty University Honor Code reads:
Statement on Sexuality and Relationships
Sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University. In personal relationships, students are encouraged to know and abide by common-sense guidelines to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Activities inconsistent with these standards and guidelines are violations of the Online Student Honor Code.
Still, Falwell’s arrogance will prompt him to fight, even if it ruins the image of his father’s school.
This is a lack of godliness, and an abundance of immorality. Falwell and his wife are hedonists, not Christians. Their fruit is rotten, but telling.
And sadly, the world will look at this, and because of Falwell’s name and family reputation, the lost will retreat further into the darkness, declaring the hypocrisy of Falwell to be the same hypocrisy of Christianity, as a whole.
Did Donald Trump cause this fall? No, but it is becoming common to find that these types of amoral, corrupt individuals tend to flock to his side.
Shame on the Falwells for their disgusting predilections, hidden under the banner of Christianity. Let’s hope Liberty’s board does the right thing.