Jerry Falwell, Jr., the now-former president of Liberty University, has had quite a busy summer, dodging one scandal after another before finally resigning after the publication of a story revealing that Falwell’s wife Becki slept with a pool boy — many times a year for many years — while Falwell himself watched from the corner of a room. At first, before his own involvement became clear, Falwell said his wife “had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved”… as if this was entirely her doing. (The Falwells deny the pool boy’s story but Reuters has screenshots and audio recordings confirming the relationship.)
When the story first broke, I thought Jerry was the aggressor and Becki was coerced into it. That changed when more information revealed she actively pursued this; a story in POLITICO quoted Giancarlo Granda saying Becki Falwell came onto him by dismissing younger women at the hotel they were at, saying, “Those girls don’t know what they’re doing, you need someone with more experience.”
But now the floodgate has opened and the Falwells’ sexual history is pouring out.
The latest story is also from POLITICO, via Brandon Ambrosino, whose 2017 story about a Miami Beach hostel first introduced the world to Granda. In it, he writes about how Becki Falwell was allegedly the sexual aggressor in a separate incident involving a Liberty U. student.
That incident goes back to 2008:
A former Liberty University student says Becki Falwell, the wife of the university’s then-President Jerry Falwell Jr., jumped into bed with him and performed oral sex on him while he stayed over at the Falwell home after a band practice with her eldest son in 2008.
The student was 22 at the time of the encounter, near the start of Liberty’s fall semester. He said she initiated the act, and he went along with it. But despite his rejection of further advances, he said, Falwell continued pursuing him, offering him gifts and engaging in banter through Facebook messages.
The student, granted anonymity, explained what happened during those band practices in 2008:
Often, the band would practice into the evening. Some nights, it would just be the then-student and Trey [Falwell, Jerry and Becki’s son] jamming together…If it was really late, or if he’d had too much to drink, the then-student would spend the night, crashing on the bed from a fold-out couch in the guest room next to Trey’s bedroom.
“One night [in August or September], we were up till one or two, and we went back to his room. We had a decent amount of Jack Daniels,” the former student said. He remembered walking into the guest room, just as he’d done many times, closing the door behind him, and preparing the bed.
“I’m laying in the bed and I hear, like, giggling to the side of me on the floor. And, pardon my French, but I was like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ I look over and it’s Becki,” he said. “Just, you know, in my room. I’m like, ‘You can’t be in here. This can’t happen.’”
A few nights later, he stayed the night again. Again, Falwell came into the guestroom where the then-student was in bed.
This time, she was more aggressive. The former student remembers that Falwell climbed into bed with him, and quickly took down his pants.
“I was like, ‘uh, what are you doing?” the former student said. Falwell then proceeded to give him oral sex.
Besides the disturbing allegation of an unwanted sexual encounter, the power dynamic makes everything even sketchier. There’s also the Liberty U. rule that requires students to abstain from pre-marital sex — to the point where having it could lead to expulsion — and yet the allegation here is that the wife of the school’s leader was performing oral sex on a student.
As is always the case when an older woman comes on to a younger man, there will inevitably be people celebrating all this, but the student makes it clear this was not something he would’ve pursued on his own. In fact, he says the experience “incited a long struggle with both his faith and mental health.” When he told her later that he didn’t want to continue any kind of sexual relationship, Becki Falwell responded with guilt-ridden Facebook messages and texts, employing an act from the abuser’s playbook called gaslighting.
Incidentally, the Falwells deny this allegation and Liberty U. says there were no complaints lodged against Becki Falwell, who was an employee at the time.
Readers may wonder why we’re just now hearing about this, given that the incidents in question happened over a decade ago. By now, it’s clear that the Falwells had an incredibly strong, toxic hold on everyone who worked under them at Liberty as well as the students. One can only imagine the repercussions that would come upon a student who made accusations against them. In this case, the student says he didn’t want to hurt the Falwell family (Jerry Falwell, Sr. had died a year earlier) and he didn’t want to become a punchline himself.
The ethical problems are obvious here. The hypocrisy is beyond belief. But for the Falwells, this story is yet one more piece of evidence for why conservative Christians shouldn’t be taken seriously. They care far more about appearances than actions.