Jerry Falwell Jr. claimed in a statement Sunday that his wife Becki was guilty of an affair in 2012 with a pool boy who was formerly a friend of the family.
Falwell, one of the most influential right-wing Christian leaders in the United States, said the couple had chosen to make the affair public as he alleged the pool boy had been blackmailing them for years about keeping the secret.
He claimed that the ‘threatening behavior’ left him with ‘trauma’ and had greatly affected him as he tried to run Liberty University.
Falwell’s statement did not identify the former family friend but he has previously been named as Giancarlo Granda, a first-generation immigrant living in Florida.
Granda met the Falwell couple as a 21-year-old.
They quickly befriended him, bringing him on vacation and even investing in his gay-friendly hostel, that listed him and Falwell’s son Trey as co-managers, according to the New York Times.
Yet on Sunday, Falwell claimed the relationship had turned sour as Granda threatened to reveal the family’s secrets.
It came after Liberty University, which Falwell’s father founded, said Friday that they were investigating ‘various rumors and claims about Falwell’ as they work to make a decision on whether to reinstate him as president or to fire him.
Falwell began a paid leave of absence earlier in August after a string of embarrassing incidents, including a picture Falwell posted to social media that showed him with his pants unzipped, drink in hand, and arm around a woman.
The prominent Trump supporter now claims that throughout this series of incidents, he was struggling with depression as a result of the threats that Granda was making against him.
Granda hit back at the statement, however, telling the Washington Examiner that ‘the WHOLE truth will come out’, denying all the allegations that the Falwells have brought against him.
Falwell made his statement exclusively to the Washington Examiner, telling them that he was ‘tired of it’.
‘It was like living on a roller coaster,’ he said in the statement.
‘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.’
He claims that the affair began in 2012 when Falwell himself was dedicating too much time to the university after being appointed its president following the death of his father in 2007.
He alleges that he was not spending enough time with his wife and that he acknowledged this as a role in the affair as he forgave her.
‘Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved,’ he insisted, ‘it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about.’
Falwell claims that he lost 80 pounds after learning about the affair.
‘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,’ Falwell claimed, before adding that he is now seeking professional help.
‘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,’ he said.
The 1,200-word statement continues to claim that after the affair ended, Granda began to ask for large amounts of money to keep the secret.
‘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,’ Falwell claimed.
They also accused Granda of being ’emotionally unstable’ and having attempted to target other women in the same way.
The statement claimed Granda ‘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.’ they added.
The young man fiercely denied the claims, telling the Examiner that ‘any allegation of extortion is falsely, defamatory and belied by clear documentary evidence.
‘The Falwell’s attempt to sandbag me, and the Examiner, with a last minute story without providing the Examiner clear evidence that this was not simply an “affair” with concocted allegations of extortion reeks desperation,’ he added.
The Falwells befriended Granda in 2012 when the young man, then 21, was working as a pool attendant at a luxury Miami Beach hotel.
The couple were staying at the Fontainebleau hotel, which boasts a party scene that is a far-cry from the strict code of conduct at Falwell’s Liberty University.
There students are prohibited from having sexual relations outside of ‘biblically ordained’ marriage and are also banned from engaging with media that contains lewd lyrics, sexual content and nudity.
According to the New York Times, Falwell liked Granda’s ambition and the young man was soon hiking and water skiing with the couple in Virginia,
They even flew him to Liberty University later in 2012 for a speech by Trump, where he was pictured with the president. Photos from the trip showed Granda on a private jet with Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal’ in his lap.
Some of the details of Falwell’s relationship with Granda were first revealed in 2015 when they were both sued in Florida by a father and son.
Jesus Fernandez Sr. and Jesus Fernandez Jr. claimed that they helped start the Alton Hostel in Miami Beach with Granda in 2013 with the financial aid of Falwell.
According to the suit, Falwell flew Granda around on the family’s private jet and the evangelical leader told the pool boy that he wished to help him ‘establish a new career and build a business’ as their relationship ‘evolved’.
Yet Granda had no experience in business development and had asked Fernandez Sr. to get involved when he went to his then-friend Fernandez Jr., and asked for his help to come up with a good profitable business he could bring to Falwell.
After they came up with the idea for the hostel, Granda went back to Fernandez Jr., and asked him to consult with his father, who ‘was very experienced in real estate ventures,’ according to the complaint.
The complaint accused Falwell, his wife Rebecca, their adult son Trey and Granda of failing to share profits from the real estate venture when Fernandez believed that he had played a central role.
Falwell settled the case in 2019.
Source: Daily Mail