Uni. head steps down after sharing open pants photo with wife's assistant

On Sunday, Falwell posted, then deleted, the photo of himself on Instagram with a woman around his arm, whom he later identified as his wife's assistant, with both of their pants unzipped.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., attends the school's commencement ceremonies in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., May 11, 2019.  (photo credit: JONATHAN DRAKE / REUTERS)
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., attends the school's commencement ceremonies in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., May 11, 2019.
(photo credit: JONATHAN DRAKE / REUTERS)
Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the televangelist pastor of the same name and ardent supporter of United States President Donald Trump, was asked to step down as President of the Liberty University on Friday after receiving criticism for a controversial photo he posted online, the Christian University said in a statement on Friday.
According to the university, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met Friday and requested Falwell Jr. take an "indefinite leave of absence," which he has agreed to, effective immediately.
On Sunday, Falwell posted, then deleted, the photo of himself on Instagram with a woman around his arm, whom he later identified as his wife's assistant, with both of their pants unzipped.
The caption on the now-deleted post reads, “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”
Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC), himself a former Liberty University instructor, called on Falwell Jr. to resign on Thursday, saying his "ongoing behavior is appalling."
In response to the resignation, Walker tweeted on Friday that "Though not easy, this is the right call for @LibertyU students and family. Liberty is such an important institution to our nation, next generation of leaders and faith. The Liberty family impacts the world every day for things that are good and righteous.
"I pray for Jerry Jr. and the Falwells, and I take solace in the Christian principle that forgiveness and redemption is available to all," he added.
In an interview local station WLNI on Thursday, Falwell said he apologized for the photo and that he has promised his children that he will "try to be a good boy from here on out.”
“Yeah, it was weird. She’s pregnant. She couldn’t get her pants zipped and I was like trying to like… I had on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time and couldn’t get zipped either. So, I just put my belly out like hers," he said.
"She’s my wife’s assistant she’s a sweetheart. I should have never put it up and embarrassed her. I’ve apologized to everybody. I promised my kids I will try to be a good boy from here on out.”
 
Falwell Jr. has been the subject of several media scandals over the past few years. 
Months before Falwell Jr.’s presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters in 2019.
The Falwells wanted to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. “I actually have one of the photos,” he said, without going into specifics. “It’s terrible.”
Cohen would later prove successful in another matter involving Falwell, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to issue his endorsement of Trump’s presidential candidacy at a critical moment, they said: just before the Iowa caucus. Falwell subsequently barnstormed with Trump and vouched for the candidate’s Christian virtues.
In addition, a 2019 Politico story depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains.
Among revelations of the Politico story were Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy for loans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.