Liberty University is giving its former president, Jerry Falwell Jr., a $10.5 million severance package, despite numerous allegations of immorality and wrongdoing.
Falwell told The Washington Post that his contract entitled him to $2.5 million over 24 months—the equivalent of two years’ salary. During that time, Falwell reportedly has agreed not to work for a competing university. After two years, Falwell will receive around $8 million in retirement.
Falwell reportedly said the board gave him the severance because he is leaving Liberty without formally being accused of, or admitting, wrongdoing.
“The board was gracious not to challenge that,” Falwell told The Washington Post. “There wasn’t any cause. I haven’t done anything.”
In Liberty’s statement yesterday, the university said that Falwell’s “severance compensation was dictated by the terms of his pre-existing employment agreement without any adjustment by the University or its Board.”
Falwell, however, has been accused not just of prurient behavior that violates the university’s own code of employee conduct, but of preying on Liberty University students.
Last night, Giancarlo Granda, the pool attendant who alleges he had sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell watched, tweeted a statement, saying: “The reality is Jerry Falwell is a predator. I know this because he sent me an image of a female Liberty University student exposing herself at their farm.”
I reached out to Liberty and Falwell for comment about Granda’s claim, but no one responded.
However, Falwell told The Washington Post that Granda may been referring to an incident that happened at his family’s guest house when he and his wife were out of town. Falwell said his daughters-in-law and a friend were cooking at the house and the friend pulled up her skirt as a joke.
Falwell said the daughters-in-law were videotaping the girl and sending screenshots around. “She had on, I don’t know how to say this, granny panties,” Falwell said, adding that the image wasn’t sexual.
Falwell said he thought the image was funny and sent it to several people.
Concerning the affair with Granda, Becki Falwell has admitted that she had an inappropriate relationship, but denies that her husband was a part of it.
“I wish Christians and people would be as forgiving as Christ was,” she said.
Jerry Falwell initially was placed on a leave of absence after he posted and then deleted a photo of himself and a woman with their pants unzipped and shirts hiked up.
It also recently came to light that Falwell had a habit of “liking” Instagram posts of Liberty University students in bikinis. A video of Falwell doing pelvic thrusts on a bar holding two female students also recently surfaced.
Falwell has a long history of questionable behavior, dating back several years.
In 2015, Falwell stated during a Liberty convocation that he wished more people had concealed carry permits so “we could end those Muslims before they walked in.”
In 2016, Falwell reportedly signed a deal selling an 18-acre athletic center to his personal fitness trainer, Benjamin Crosswhite.
According to Reuters, Liberty adjusted the price of the property to benefit Crosswhite, and also financed the purchase. Reuters also reported that Falwell encouraged Liberty personnel in an email to cut Crosswhite a “sweet deal.”
In 2019, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen claimed that Falwell asked him to help bury racy photos described as images normally kept “between husband and wife.” Those images were reportedly destroyed after Cohen intervened.
Falwell initially denied that the photos existed. However, Falwell yesterday confirmed with The Washington Post that Cohen had helped him.
Falwell said someone had stolen photos from his phone of himself and his partially-nude wife in their backyard. Falwell said Cohen reportedly contacted the unnamed person’s lawyers and threatened to contact the FBI if the photos became public.
Cohen yesterday told the Post that Granda was involved, saying that he worked with Granda’s lawyers to make sure the photos were not released. A spokesman for Granda says Cohen did not speak to Granda’s lawyer.
Some have questioned whether Cohen may have used this favor for Falwell to secure Falwell’s endorsement of Donald Trump for president in 2016. Yesterday, Cohen said that he asked the Falwells to help with “the lagging Trump campaign in Iowa” as “a personal favor to me.”
Earlier this summer, Falwell tweeted a racist image, which prompted a group of black alumni to urge him to step down.