Jerry Falwell Jr and Becki Falwell
Jerry Falwell Jr., right, answers a student's question, accompanied by his wife, Becki, during a town hall meeting in 2018 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Jerry Falwell Jr. Says Wife Had Affair with “Pool Boy”

By Julie Roys

Suspended Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., released a statement late last night to Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard, divulging that his wife had an affair with a young pool attendant the couple had befriended eight years ago.

Falwell said the “inappropriate personal relationship” was short-lived and that he and his wife “forgave each other.” But Falwell added that the affair was “very upsetting,” caused him to lose 80 pounds, “and people who saw me regularly thought that I was physically unwell.”

Falwell claimed that the young man— identified in multiple news reports as Giancarlo Granda, or the “pool boy”—also tried to extort money from the couple and Liberty University. Falwell added that recently Granda had stepped up his “threats to share more outrageous and fabricate(d) claims about us.” Falwell said he and his wife “decided the only way to stop this predatory behavior is to go public.”

The questionable relationship between the Falwells and Granda first surfaced last year. That’s when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told comedian Tom Arnold that he had buried racy “personal” photographs of the Falwells that involved the “pool boy.”  

In his statement, Falwell said he was “not involved” in the personal relationship his wife, Becki, had with Granda.

Granda denied Falwell’s claims that Granda tried to extort money from the Falwells or Liberty. In an email to Bedard, Granda said “any allegation of extortion is falsely defamatory and belied by clear documentary evidence.” Granda called Falwell’s account an “attempt to sandbag me” and “a last minute story” that “reeks of desperation.”

Falwell, who makes more than $1 million a year as chancellor and president of Liberty, has been on an indefinite leave from the university after posting and deleting a racy picture of himself and his wife’s assistant. Since then, a bizarre exercise video of Falwell’s has also come to light, as well as Falwell’s practice of “liking” students in bikini photos.  

In 2013, after Falwell lost 50-80 pounds, Falwell told local media that the weight loss was due to “a total lifestyle change” prompted by concerns about high cholesterol. Similarly, Falwell told the Liberty Champion, the student newspaper at Liberty, “I had been on blood pressure medication for 15 years, and the doctor wanted to put me on cholesterol medicine as well, but I declined that. . . . Instead, I started changing my eating habits, and I progressively lost the weight.”

Falwell also described himself at the time as healthier than he’d been in years, saying: “I find myself doing things I used to do, and I just can’t believe the difference in how much easier it is, how much more fun it is.”

Falwell said he is now “seeking to address the emotional toll” of the whole Granda affair by seeking help from mental health professionals.

“The trauma of this experience has brought us to a very challenging point in our lives,” Falwell said, “but we are strong, our faith in Christ is greater than ever, and with His help and with those in the community who we love and appreciate the impact of forgiveness, we will get through this.”

Falwell’s full statement:

My family has been blessed with the opportunity to serve Christ and our community over the past 50 years – from when my father founded Liberty in the early 1970’s through today. When my father suddenly passed away in 2007, I quickly and unexpectedly went from being the lawyer working in the background on the business aspects of the school to becoming a very public person, having to overcome my fears of speaking in front of audiences of tens of thousands, with many more responsibilities to the Liberty community and to my own family.

My priority was to build on my father’s vision and to work hard. Thanks to the help of the Board and the extraordinary Liberty faculty, executives, staff and community, we have ensured the University’s sustained growth and financial health while providing the best and most modern on-campus and online educational and spiritual resources to a wider range of students both in person and through digital platforms.

My commitment to Liberty became and has remained my primary focus – and while I am so grateful and thankful for our collective successes, I also realize in hindsight that there was a toll that this took on me, which extended to my family too. During this time of reflection for us and this especially challenging year, and even more so following the events of the past few weeks, my wife Becki and I agreed that this was the right time for me to share more of our story, because the Liberty community deserves to hear it directly from me and from us.

During a vacation over eight years ago, Becki and I met an ambitious young man who was working at our hotel and was saving up his money to go to school. We encouraged him to pursue an education and a career and we were impressed by his initiative in suggesting a local real estate opportunity. My family members eventually made an investment in a local property, included him in the deal because he could play an active role in managing it, and became close with him and his family.

Shortly thereafter, Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved – it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about. After I learned this, I lost 80 pounds and people who saw me regularly thought that I was physically unwell, when in reality I was just balancing how to be most supportive of Becki, who I love, while also reflecting and praying about whether there were ways I could have been more supportive of her and given her proper attention. I came to realize that while it may be easy to judge others on their behavior, the King James Bible reminds us – “Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I sayeth unto you, that whoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart.” In fact, there are ways we may all be sinning, but the Lord believes in this self-reflection.

I was and have always remained fully devoted to Becki and we have shared many private conversations to better understand and support each other and to strengthen our marriage. Thankfully, our love has never been stronger. Becki and I forgave each other, because while her indiscretion may have been more obvious and apparent, I realized that there were important smaller things I needed to do better too.

In Ephesians 4:32 we learn – “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving as God in Christ forgave you.”

We extended the spirit of forgiveness to this man with respect and kindness, both for spiritual and religious reasons, and in the hope that we could help him find his way and allow us to put this behind us, without any harm or embarrassment to our family or to the LU community to which we have dedicated our lives.

During the years that followed, we got to know his family and other loved ones, good people who also really care about him. They shared and confirmed to us that he has periodically demonstrated emotionally unstable behaviors with some destructive tendencies, seemingly in response to his inability to achieve his professional goals. Based on information from other sources, we believe that he may have targeted other successful women in similar ways.

While we tried to distance ourselves from him over time, he unfortunately became increasingly angry and aggressive. Eventually, he began threatening to publicly reveal this secret relationship with Becki and to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies. While this was very upsetting, we had been advised by trusted legal counsel that it was best to maintain contact with this person, as we tried to manage his increasingly erratic behavior and unreasonable demands while extricating ourselves from him both on a personal level and from that real estate transaction.

It was like living on a roller coaster.

While completely dedicating ourselves to Liberty, we were also suffering in silence during our personal time together, while simultaneously trying to manage and deal with this increasingly threatening behavior, which only worsened over time. We were doing our best to respectfully unravel this ‘fatal attraction’ type situation to protect our family and the University.

Even years after the improper relationship had ended, this person continued to be aggressive with Becki and me in a variety of ways. We finally decided that we had to further withdraw completely from him, which resulted in him stepping up his threats to share more outrageous and fabricate claims about us (under the guise of that business entity). He clearly moved forward with this plan through a specific member of the media who has continued to badger us, as well as other members of the media, regarding the false claims about the nature of the relationship based on the individual’s misrepresentations. Over the course of the last few months this person’s behavior has reached a level that we have decided the only way to stop this predatory behavior is to go public.

We have categorically rejected this person’s demands while dealing with him and this particular member of the media who seemed just as obsessed with the prurient, untrue aspects of this story, however fantastic.

Even though I continued successfully working with our entire Liberty team to achieve so many of our goals, I am now dealing with things in a way that I should have done before – including seeking to address the emotional toll this has taken. I shouldn’t have been afraid to admit my vulnerabilities and to reach out for assistance from the mental health professionals who could have alleviated this pain and stress. I am committed to speaking out and sharing with others at Liberty the importance of seeking counseling instead of thinking you need to be tough and try to bear these burdens on your own. I am in the early stages of addressing these issues.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on thine own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will guide straight thy path.”

The trauma of this experience has brought us to a very challenging point in our lives, but we are strong, our faith in Christ is greater than ever, and with His help and with those in the community who we love and who appreciate the impact of forgiveness, we will get through this. We ask for your prayers and support.

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46 thoughts on “Jerry Falwell Jr. Says Wife Had Affair with “Pool Boy””

  1. It gets more bizarre all the time. And how did Jerry restore his wife?? If he forgave her, I assume she must have repented and the matter is over as per Matt.18 step 1 . So why is he bringing it up now when the matter was over?
    One good thing came out of it; Jerry lost 80 pounds and has shown his immoral side we never knew of.

  2. Please look at the “Liberty University Friends” Facebook page . A whole lot of folks are 100% behind him and want him back and think this news should not be shared. The “Falwell Faithful” were loyal to his dad to a fault and are the same way with him. The fitness center owner , Ben Crosswhite, is married to daughter of a long time ” Thomas Road Baptist” royalty family that goes back many, many years. Unless you live in Lynchburg it is hard to imagine how deep and tangled the relationships are.

  3. These continuing reports just sadden me. While I don’t disagree with the above comments, I am sad for Jerry Falwell Jr., his wife, and his family. While we may never know the entire truth about this, or any other story, it is nonetheless a a sad tale of how power and influence can destroy.

    I am especially saddened over how the name of Christ is dishonored because of how these many well-known and influential Christian leaders continue to fall…or rather, be exposed.

    We as Christians should be distraught over the state of “the church” in our country today. We need to be down on our knees in repentance asking for God’s mercy. May we turn from our wicked ways, and seek God’s face, his wisdom, and his ways.

    1. I echo your sentiments here. Well said. Thank you for a comment that shows compassion and depth. There is always so much more…

    2. I’m also saddened by this and firmly believe in redemption and second (or more) chances and hope this couple heals. However, time and again we see “celebrity” Christians fall, or at least behave inappropriately. Most of us are content to live our lives quietly, serving the church and community without fanfare. I don’t personally know Jerry Jr. nor do I have any affiliation with Liberty, but the university isn’t a dynasty that had to be deeded to a son. He should have sought employment he was more suited for.

  4. Julie, you’re not the media figure who’s been “badgering” the Falwell family, are you? And those pesky “lawyers” who advised them to keep up their relationship with this guy–too much!

    1. Call me skeptical but that whole thing about the lawyers advising them to keep in contact sounded outrageously phony. Just another way to throw blame at someone else instead of admitting that they were desperately trying to keep it quiet.

  5. It seems like Falwell, Jr. is trying to gain sympathy and excuse his poor behavior by admitting to a separate issue where he was not the offender but the victim. I also suspect that he is trying to front-run a story by another party that will likely conflict with this account and cast him in a worse light.

    Falwell, Jr.’s statement contains one obvious lie (either now or when the below article from 2013 was written) easily detected by a quick google search of “Falwell weight loss.” The statement says, “After I learned this, I lost 80 pounds and people who saw me regularly thought that I was physically unwell.”

    However, the LU website ran a story as of December 3, 2013 titled “Falwell Gets Fit” that said Falwell, Jr. had intentionally lost weight as the result of experiencing health issues (a transient ischemic attack) that resulted in an overnight hospitalization. “Falwell said he was “blessed by God” that he was able to catch the symptoms in time and turn his habits around into a healthier lifestyle before they became deadly.”

    People thought he was physically healthier after his weight loss not “physically unwell.”

    Also, why would Falwell, Jr. specifically state that the relationship was “something in which I was not involved?” That seems unusual as most spouses are not involved when the other spouse is unfaithful, unless there is more afoot here. I wouldn’t be surprised if a different story claims he was involved.

    Oddly, the link to the 2013 LU article (https://www.liberty.edu/champion/2013/12/falwell-gets-fit/) no longer works, but I have screenshots on my iPhone from this morning if you would like them, Julie.

        1. We don’t know if the pool boy is lying or Falwell JR is lying. This is a sad situation indeed no matter how you slice it.

          1. Falwell already lied once very obviously in the statement about people thinking he looked sick when he lost weight. A contemporaneous article reported he was healthier after losing weight.

            What makes you think he wouldn’t lie again?

    1. Yesterday I read that he stated he and his wife were being blackmailed by this young man. It was in an article by Bryron York, Washington Examiner.

  6. To Julie Roys,

    I appreciate your making the servants in Christian churches and Christian colleges accountable. The church as a whole needs to be purified by the Holy Spirit in a deep way. As another commentator here- Julie Snow- said, these matters ought to grieve us and cause us to pray, even pray with fasting. It would be best if we did not weaponize such information in any way, or let it be tainted with political purposes. I feel that the photo you used for this piece, with President Trump in the middle, is really inappropriate. This is about Falwell, Jr. and his wife. Trump did not run the business at Liberty University. He only spoke there. To use such a picture is almost like falling into a gossip trap. Very sorry to see this. We who comment here need to have pure motives and hearts, too, before the Lord.

    1. Yes, Julie, heaven forbid you use a picture of King David, I mean King Donald, I mean President Trump, in this story. I can’t believe you would try to associate the President with Falwell, Jr. Very sorry to see you politicizing a tale of greed, thirst for power, lust and infidelity. President Trump would never be associated with those themes. Didn’t you see him hold a Bible outside that Church?

      /s

      1. Christine Schmidt

        Enough of this wolf in sheep’s clothing. Toss him out so he and dear Becki can go join the Hybels on their boat somewhere. Can you imagine their conversations!!

    2. Farmer, I completely agree. Well said.

      I think this story about Falwell, which is running all over the internet, will be the last straw for Falwell at Liberty (and rightly so). But there’s no reason to implicate Trump in this mess. There have always been unsavory people supporting Presidents, such as Harvey Weinstein for example.

      Harvey Weinstein was a longtime supporter of and contributor to the Democratic Party, including the campaigns of President Barack Obama and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Weinstein supported Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2012, he hosted an election fundraiser for President Obama at his home in Westport, Connecticut. Yet it would be grossly unfair to implicate Obama in any of Weinstein’s seedy mess.

      1. There’s a big difference though. President Obama has never been implicated in the type of sleazy behavior that Weinstein was involved in — indeed, there’s never been a whiff of sexual impropriety. Trump and Falwell, on the other hand, are birds of a feather in their sleaziness, though at least Falwell’s never been accused of sexual assault.

        1. Tacitus, I was merely pointing out that if someone displayed a photo of Obama and Harvey Weinstein together, such as at an election fundraiser, the “guilt by association” would be unfair to Obama. Obama is not responsible (nor complicit) in Weinstein’s actions, and Trump is not responsible (nor complicit) in Falwell’s actions.

          And yes, Trump has been accused of sexual assault, yet so has Joe Biden (by Tara Reade). This story has disappeared (not surprisingly) from both the mainstream media and the MeToo movement.

          For the record, I did not vote for Trump in 2016, so I have no personal attachment to him. Again, I was merely echoing Farmer’s point about the photo with Trump and the Falwells.

          1. To be more precise, Daniel, Donald Trump, current president of the United States, has been accused of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, including non-consensual kissing or groping, by at least 25 women since the 1970s, and including serious allegations related to a 13 year old girl.

            Joe Biden has been accused once. The story was well covered by both the mainstream media and the MeToo movement and largely disappeared when her own lawyers withdrew from her case and she went silent.

            While I am very open to hearing more of Tara Reade’s story, it does not add up to the 25 accusations against Donald Trump, including including multiple cases currently in the courts.

            The story here, however, is Jerry Falwell Jr.

            I agree that Trump is not complicit in Falwell’s immorality, except perhaps in the corruption of good morals by bad company that the Bible warns us against. But whether Falwell ever had those good morals is brought into question by this grinning photo in front of a porn cover, which effectively conveys Falwell’s willingness to be complicit in Trump’s immorality.

      2. ‘there’s no reason to implicate Trump in this mess. There have always been unsavory people supporting Presidents, such as Harvey Weinstein for example.’

        This is not about implication (I have seen no one, certainly not Julie Roys, blame Trump for Falwell’s moral failings), but about context.

        President Trump’s support of pornography—as displayed on the wall behind the Falwells–is his own mess. The photo with the Falwells displays their personal willingness to accommodate moral compromise in pursuit of power, long before the news that broke today.

    3. I disagree, Farmer. The picture, shoulder to shoulder with a US president (though candidate then), effectively captures Falwell’s access to power, which is an important part of the story.

      The presence of Trump’s Playboy cover behind their wide smiles and thumbs ups speaks volumes about the willingness of the Falwell’s to accommodate moral compromise. And we now know that the picture was taken during the time period of the affair that this story covers.

      The picture is a very effective part of the story, and it is a shame that the Christians who saw that photo five years ago were not more discerning. Will they be discerning now?

    1. Of course he did. Sadly, most evangelicals I’ve discussed this with were full of excuses for the alliance with pornography displayed by both Falwell and Trump in this photo.

  7. Interesting, the picture doesn’t suggest anything to me about Trump. Maybe because I feel no need to either defend or denounce our president. This article isn’t about the president. It’s about Falwell JRs behavior including among other things a desire for power and prestige. Perhaps from that angle the picture could be viewed as appropriate.

    1. Yes, I don’t know if that was in the writer’s mind but the way that the Falwells have chased after worldly power (as opposed to, say, trying to follow Jesus) seems likely to have been a factor in this whole sordid mess.
      I suppose the story also gives possible insight about why Falwell has been so willing to give Trump a pass on his gross personal immorality.

      1. Why do some of you keep making this about Prez Trump. Do any of you know our Prez ‘s heart? From what I’ve seen he has turned towards God and wants God’s direction. He acts as Prez are more in alignment with allowing the Gospel to be shared than most in the past. I just don’t understand the disapproval of him currently.

  8. Grainne Mcdonald

    The subliminal message you give by choosing a picture of Falwell and his wife with President Trump is unacceptable. There are many other pictures you could have chosen. Falwell’s despicable behavior is what is at issue here and nothing else. Others have made excellent comments here to this effect.

    1. Actually, I didn’t have access to many photos with both Jerry and Becki Falwell. However, I was able to get rights to another AP photo, which I’ve used to replace the original.

      1. Julie, I think that was very fair of you. Whatever we think of Trump (good, bad, or ugly) is immaterial to this latest story about the Falwells and the pool boy.

        Hopefully this will be the last straw regarding Falwell’s presidency of Liberty University.

        Thanks for your solid reporting on this, and many other, issues.

    2. I disagree. Falwell’s willingness to give a grinning thumb’s up in front of a porn cover–while he was engaging in this affair–says volumes about his despicable behavior.

    3. This has turned political like it or not. It shouldn’t be about Prez Trump at all. Falwell stands or falls on his own.

  9. `Just for perspective, Rev. Billy Graham associated with many presidents none of which was perfect.

    Rev. Bill Hybels associated with then President Bill Clinton so much that he invited Clinton to be a speaker at the Global Leadership Summit, which caused big reaction in the Willow Creek Church at the time. The main reason was the fact that Clinton was for abortion. There were other matters that did not give Clinton a holy reputation.

    But people did not display pictures of Bill Hybels with Bill Clinton when criticizing Hybels, nor did they talk about that association.

    Trump does not have a clean reputation from his past. But his faults are magnified while the serious faults of many other presidents are concealed. I would dare say that rare is the man or woman in such high leadership who does not want power, prestige and money to some degree, when they can do things or support policies at the expense of innocent lives. This applies to the Supreme Court, too.

    The purpose of these comments is not political. I hope it will not generate a political debate here at all. Perhaps each of us needs to reflect more on the Beatitudes. The Kingdom of Jesus is not of this world where we pass through.

    1. Farmer, if you can point me to a photo of Billy Graham giving a grinning thumbs up to a President in front of that President’s porn cover, I’d be interested in seeing it.

      Otherwise, you are equating things that are not the same.

  10. The comments have gone off tangent and focused on whether Julie Roys is politicizing Falwell’s relationship w/ Trump. I am able to separate the two men from each other and to vote accordingly. Let’s stay on point that the Falwells are not fit to be the President, First Lady and face of LU. 1 Timothy 3:1-11 teaches about leaders in a church. Teaching w/ a broader application; it also apply it to other Christian institutions.
    2Now the overseer is to be above reproach…3…not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family…5 If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 8In the same way, deacons b are to be worthy of respect, sincere…and not pursuing dishonest gain. 11In the same way, the women c are to be worthy of respect…but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

    If he cant control his wife, how can he lead a Christian university? .

    1. I am aghast at your unbiblical assertion here that Falwell’s problem is that he can’t control his wife.

      Falwell’s problem is that he can’t control HIMSELF.

      Falwell owns his OWN moral choices, his OWN sin, and his OWN need for repentance, as does his wife.

      1. Thank you, Lea!! Give me a break. Jerry owns his own lies and behavior. If the story is true, he is himself guilty of voyeurism. He’s a creeper.

  11. Good evening everyone,

    I’m surprised that no one has brought up the issue that people of substance are rarely ‘Goddly’. They get caught up worshiping the Golden Calf of fortune,fame, success … It is a pretty long list of things to worship and Evangelicals love $$. It seems several of the other seven deadly sins showed up in this one as well.

    At times the love affair is far more important that their relationship with the Risen Lord. What are these men of substance going to do when the Jesus Inc. gig ends?

    A regular pastor can get a regular job and do regular things like everyone else. What other job will pay as well for a celebrity pastor?. It is a pretty tough gig to beat.

    Best regards
    CJ

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