RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Jerry Falwell Jr. announced his resignation Tuesday as the head of Liberty University after a provocative photo and revelations of his wife’s extramarital affair roiled the evangelical school founded by his father.
Falwell’s exit marks a precipitous fall from power for one of the country’s most visible conservative Christian leaders and ardent supporters of President Donald Trump. He confirmed his decision to resign in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press.
According to the school, he initially offered to resign Monday, hours after a news outlet published an interview with a man who said that he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Becki Falwell and that Jerry Falwell participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur. Falwell, who denied any participation, later reversed course on his resignation and began telling news outlets he had no intention of leaving. Then he changed direction again.
“That’s the only reason I resigned: because I don’t want something my wife did to harm the school I’ve spent my whole life building,” he said in a phone interview. “I never broke a single rule that applies to staff members at Liberty, which I was. So I want everybody to know that.”
The university confirmed in a statement that its board had accepted Falwell’s resignation as president, chancellor and board member. All were effective immediately, the statement said.
Becki Falwell also spoke with the AP on Tuesday, saying she and her husband are “more in love than ever” — a sentiment echoed by an audibly tearful Jerry Falwell.
“We have the strongest relationship, and Jerry is the most forgiving person I’ve ever met,” she said. “It’s a shame that Christians can’t give us the same forgiveness that Christ gave us.”