Liberty University Launches Investigation After Falwell Sex Scandal Prompts Resignation

In the wake of Jerry Falwell Jr.'s resignation from Liberty University, the Christian institution has launched an independent investigation "into all facets" of its operations during Falwell's tenure as president, the school's executive committee announced on Monday.

Falwell — who took over following the 2007 death of his evangelical father and Liberty's founder, pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. — has been at the center of a sex scandal involving his wife, Becki Falwell, 53, and former Miami pool attendant Giancarlo Granda, 29.

Facing mounting scrutiny, Jerry resigned from his position on Aug. 25.

"This past week challenged all of us to the core," Liberty's executive committee said in the statement about Jerry, 58. "While we had been willing to extend grace and understanding to Jerry Falwell, Jr. before, once the revelations about his past personal life came more fully to light, we acted swiftly and decisively to ask for his immediate resignation, which we received."

Prior to the affair allegations by Granda, a since-deleted Instagram photo of Jerry with his wife's assistant put him on an "indefinite leave of absence" from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty in early August. And in a Politico report published Thursday, a former Liberty student claimed that Becki was the "aggressor" in a sexual encounter that he alleged took place when he was a 22-year-old member of her son Trey's band.

The Falwells deny Granda's account of an affair, saying he was trying to blackmail them, which he similarly denies; the Falwells also denied the claim from the former Liberty student.

In a statement last week, Jerry said Becki had had an affair with Granda without his involvement but that they had overcome that problem in their relationship.

In its statement on Monday, the Liberty committee said Jerry's mounting controversies made his stewardship untenable: "Some may say that all the signs were there for a long time before last week. It’s certainly fair to say that there were questionable comments made, worrying behavior, and inappropriate social media posts, but all the signs were not there until the start of last week."

"While we still didn’t know the full scope of the matter, we have learned enough about the past to know that we had no choice but to take the leadership of Liberty University in a new direction," they continued.

The committee added, "We are also committed to learning the consequences that have flowed from a lack of spiritual stewardship by our former president. One of the leading forensic firms in the world has been retained by Liberty University’s Board of Trustees to conduct a thorough investigation into all facets of Liberty University operations during Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tenure as President, including but not limited to financial, real estate, and legal matters."

Liberty's executive committee thanked its community for prayers during its transitional period and said members are "very mindful that we must seek leaders who demonstrate a full commitment to the spiritual mission of Liberty University by words, actions, and example."

"That is why, in addition to starting a search for a new president, we are also reviewing options to establish a new role in the top leadership of the University for someone who will serve as a spiritual coach, mentor, and guide to help ensure that every member of the University leadership fulfills his or her spiritual responsibility to live out the Christian walk expected of each and every one of us at Liberty," the school wrote of its goals.

Speaking with Reuters in August, former pool attendant Granda claimed a sexual relationship with the Falwells began at a Miami Beach hotel in 2012. Over the next six years, the trio would meet up several times for Granda and Becki to have sex while “Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room," Granda alleged.

Jerry has denied Granda's allegations, which he has characterized as part of an extortion plot. He claimed in his own statement to The Washington Examiner that he had no part in the sexual relationship and that Becki was the one who had cheated.

Becki recently confirmed an extramarital affair with Granda to the Washington Post, saying that her husband had nothing to do with it. Despite the attention surrounding their marriage, Becki told the Associated Press that she and Jerry are “more in love than ever."

Granda told Good Morning America on Friday that Jerry was "lying" and his "game plan from the beginning [was] to just throw her [Becki] under the bus."

The Falwells have not returned PEOPLE’s requests for comment.

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