Well, here’s a story I wasn’t expecting. And it involves Jerry Falwell, Jr., his wife, and the infamous pool boy. Again.
First some background: We know Falwell has temporarily stepped away from Liberty University, after a series of self-imposed disasters that included posting bizarre pictures on Instagram, making a racist tweet, targeting reporters who were doing their job, inadvertently pushing Black athletes to transfer out of Liberty, insulting a parent who questioned the school’s reopening, lying about the origin of coronavirus, giving a sweet land deal to his personal trainer, censoring the school’s own journalists, and distributing racy pictures in a scandal that somehow involved Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
But there was another scandal associated with Falwell that has come to define him over the past few years… involving a “pool boy.”
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Several years ago, Falwell and his wife Becki stayed in a hotel in Miami Beach (which has quite a party scene!) and befriended one of the pool attendants, 21-year-old Giancarlo Granda. He began vacationing with them and they even helped him start his own business.
That business? Granda bought a youth hostel — in a building that also housed a liquor store. You would think that would be scandalous for the head of a Christian school, but this was Falwell. You think he cared about that? Of course not. The Falwells helped Granda pay for the building.
The total cost was $4.7 million. Falwell later said he offered up a “loan of $1.8 million, including $800,000 for renovations.”
There was a legal battle over the ownership of that building. But what made everything even crazier was that there was a separate scandal involving photos:
… It was understood that between Mr. Granda, the Fernandezes [who also claimed to own the building] and their lawyers, one or more people were in possession of photographs that could be used as leverage against the Falwells.
“These are photos between husband and wife,” Mr. Cohen added, joking that “the evangelicals are kinkier than Tom Arnold.” He explained, “I was going to pay him, and I was going to get the negatives and do an agreement where they turn over all the technology that has the photographs or anything like that, any copies.”
But the payoff “never happened,” he said, “and the guy just either deleted them on his own or what have you.”
Anyway, the “pool boy” scandal led to all kinds of online jokes about what Falwell was doing with him. Was this a same-sex tryst? (The hypocrisy!) Was this a threesome? Was this even sexual? Why was the older leader of a Christian school just giving this young stranger nearly $2 million to start his business?
Last night, in an article posted at the conservative Washington Examiner, writer Paul Bedard said that Falwell personally told him Granda had a brief “affair” with his wife and was now trying to extort them, leading Falwell to go into a depression.
In a statement exclusively to Secrets, Falwell revealed his wife Becki’s affair for the first time, said it was short lived and that the two reconciled quickly.
But, they claimed, her former lover has threatened them over the past several years and they are done with it hanging over their heads.
“I’m just tired of it,” said Falwell of the anxiety he’s felt about the affair becoming public and embarrassing his family and Liberty. “It’s just got to end,” he added.
“While we tried to distance ourselves from [Granda] 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,” they said.
Can it really be an “affair” when Falwell seemed to know everything about it from the start?
Anyway, Granda denied all this in a statement to Bedard:
He emailed, “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. The WHOLE truth will come out.”
Falwell’s statement paints himself as the victim in a large years-long scheme and basically throws his wife under the bus in the process. (She doesn’t say anything in his statement.) Also, if you assume it’s true, none of it would excuse Falwell’s bad behavior for all the other reasons. (It’s not like being racist is a symptom of depression.)
Look: I don’t care about the Falwells’ personal lives. The only reason any of this matters is because Falwell has spent so much of his career dictating how others should live their lives. The policies and politicians he’s supported have made LGBTQ people’s lives worse. The hypocrisy is both astounding and not even the least bit surprising. It’s the same kind of pretzel-shaped logic that leads so many white evangelicals to support Donald Trump.
Here’s another issue: If you’re going to reveal all this publicly, why tell a Trump sycophant who writes for a smaller conservative news outlet when, presumably, more credible organizations would have gladly run with this story?
And why reveal it now? Falwell is nothing if not strategic, which means there could be a lot more to the story coming soon. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Michael Cohen’s book will be coming out soon…
If Falwell is trying to garner sympathy, he’ll have to try a lot harder than this.
(Screenshot via YouTube)