Whew, I don’t know where to start with this Jerry Falwell Jr. stuff. I live in Virginia, and the Falwell family has always been a really big deal in my area. People around here love the other son of the late Jerry Falwell, Jonathan Falwell, who is seen as merely a good, apolitical, charitable-minded minister. But Jerry Jr. was already quite controversial among Southern Baptists and Evangelicals even before his current mess. Maybe even the faithful flock could see that Jerry Jr. was a sweaty hypocritical pervert. But none of them were expecting this! I wasn’t expecting it either. I won’t even try to recap, so here’s what’s happening now:
Jerry Falwell Jr., one of the country’s most prominent evangelicals and embattled leader of one of its largest Christian schools, spoke out Sunday in an extraordinary statement to deny that he and his wife had together been sexually involved with a pool attendant they befriended in Miami. Falwell described the claim as an extortion plot of “increasingly threatening behavior” straight out of Fatal Attraction.
That pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda, told a different story. And he said he had text messages, phone calls and photos to back him up. Speaking with Reuters, Granda detailed how he “developed an intimate relationship” with Falwell’s wife, Becki Falwell, stretching from 2012 to 2018 — with Jerry as an audience.
“Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda said.
Reuters reported that Granda provided “emails, text messages and other evidence” that he said corroborated his sexual allegations. The relationship began in March 2012, while he was working as a pool attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. He was 20 years old when he first met the Falwells, he said; public records show Jerry was then 49 and Becki was 45.
Granda, now 29, claimed to Reuters that he would meet up with the Falwells “multiple times per year” at hotels in Miami and New York as well as their home in Virginia. Granda’s interview was published on Monday, but the Falwells knew it was coming. In a statement given to The Washington Examiner on Sunday, Jerry offered a dueling account. He denied the claim of an affair involving both him and his wife, and he said Becki, now 53, was the one who had cheated. Jerry, 58, did not name Granda but he referred to a hotel employee exactly like him.
“During a vacation over eight years ago, Becki and I met an ambitious young man who was working at our hotel and was saving up his money to go to school. … My family members eventually made an investment in a local property, included him in the deal because he could play an active role in managing it, and became close with him and his family,” Jerry said in his statement.
“Shortly thereafter,” he said, “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person.”
But the couple overcame that indiscretion, Jerry said — and continued growing close to Granda and his family and friends. Eventually, he claimed, Granda “became increasingly angry and aggressive” and “began threatening to publicly reveal this secret relationship with Becki … unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies. It was like living on a roller coaster,” Jerry told the Examiner.
Reached for comment by the paper, Granda denied the allegation of blackmail and said “the WHOLE truth will come out.”
“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 [of] desperation,” Granda said.
Falwell Jr. was already on indefinite leave from Liberty University (because of a photo of him partying on a yacht with his pants unzipped), and there are several denials and confirmations that Jerry Jr has now left Liberty permanently, but that’s not the f–king point of any of this. Jerry Falwell’s sons are largely credited with turning Liberty from a backwater college for Evangelicals into one of Virginia’s larger universities, industries and property holders. Jerry Jr. had a big say in the business side of Liberty and the Falwell family’s property dealings. So it’s really big news on a lot of levels.
And the “don’t kink shame” thing is not the point either. If Jerry Jr. likes to watch his wife getting railed by a Miami pool boy, so be it. But he doesn’t get to preach family values and anti-choice bullsh-t and conservative social policies at the same time. And another political wrinkle is that several years ago, Jerry Jr went to Michael Cohen, who was then Donald Trump’s lawyer, to help work out a deal with Granda, who was blackmailing the Falwells. Shortly after Cohen worked out a deal, Jerry Jr. endorsed Donald Trump and threw the full weight of Liberty behind Trump. (I always felt like Jonathan was kind of uncomfortable with that.)
Photos courtesy of Getty.