Jerry Falwell Jr. to receive $10.5 million in compensation for resigning from Liberty University
Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor
(CNN) — Jerry Falwell, Jr., the former president of Liberty University, will receive a $10.5 million compensation package from the evangelical school, he told CNN.
Falwell, who resigned late Monday after a series of scandals, said he will receive about $2.5 million during the next two years and another $8 million thereafter. As the university’s president and chancellor, Falwell was paid about $1.25 million per year.
Falwell, 58, told The Washington Post his Liberty contract entitles him to the severance package because he is departing the school without being formally accused of or admitting to wrongdoing.
The embattled evangelical leader resigned from the evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, a day after reports surfaced that he and his wife Becki took part in a longtime sexual relationship with a former hotel pool attendant. The school said Tuesday it had accepted Falwell’s resignation, effective immediately.
Falwell’s departure from the school his late father founded came after a tumultuous 24 hours filled with conflicting reports about his fate. On Monday, the university said Falwell had agreed to resign as Liberty’s president but then withdrew his resignation later that day.
Falwell’s fall was precipitous. In recent years, he had been one of the country’s most prominent evangelicals, with a prime perch at its most successful university.
The son of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died in 2007, Falwell Jr. raised the school’s profile — and finances — considerably as president.
Liberty now boasts a $1.6 billion endowment and its board of trustees, in accepting Falwell’s recognition, praised his business acumen. During his time as president, according to the board, Falwell oversaw more than $1 billion in construction projects, transforming its campus into one with “world-class academic buildings and athletics facilities.”
Falwell also helped raise enrollment to more than 100,000 students, including both residential and online students, the Liberty board said.
“The university’s heartfelt prayers are with him and his family as he steps away from his life’s work,” Liberty said Tuesday in a statement.
But the last few months brought a series of public controversies about Falwell’s behavior
The latest scandal
Most recently, a young Miami man went public with allegations that he was involved in sexual activities with the Falwells from 2012, when they met at a Miami Beach hotel, until 2019. The man, Giancarlo Granda, told CNN that Falwell frequently looked on while Granda had sex with Falwell’s wife Becki.
Earlier this week, Granda told CNN the Falwells were attempting to discredit him by peddling fiction. In a statement in part, he told CNN the Falwell’s “would have you believe that I seduced Becki into an affair, without Jerry’s knowledge, and then spent the intervening 7 years trying to extort them.”
“Of course the truth is, they approached me. She invited me to their hotel room. They offered me an equity partnership in a property venture,” he said, adding they brought him on multiple vacations, including at their family farm in Virginia.
In a statement released shortly before Granda’s story became public, Falwell Jr. acknowledged the affair but said that he was “not involved.” He also said he had reconciled with his wife and sought professional help.
“I am now dealing with things in a way that I should have done before,” he said, “including seeking to address the emotional toll this has taken.”
Falwell also said that Granda had tried to blackmail him and his wife, a charge that Granda denies.
Falwell’s other controversies
The sordid back and forth added new depth to Falwell remarkable fall from grace. In June, he apologized after deleting a much-criticized tweet that showed one person in black face and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.
On August 7, Liberty University’s executive committee said they asked Falwell Jr. to take an “indefinite leave of absence” after he posted a photo on Instagram that showed him with his pants unzipped and his midsection visible. In the photo, Falwell is holding a cup of dark liquid and has one arm around a woman whose shorts are also unzipped.
In a radio interview soon afterward, Falwell Jr. said the woman was his wife’s assistant. He said the pair were at a costume party and “it was just in good fun,” but added he should never have posted the photo and said, “I’ve apologized to everybody and I promised my kids I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out.”
He told CNN on Tuesday via text message, “My contract did not allow the board to put me on leave for posting a picture of my belly and the board graciously accepted that fact and accepted my resignation.”
Former Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior told CNN on Tuesday she’s grateful that Falwell is gone and the school can move forward.
“There have been red flags for a long time,” she said about Falwell’s tenure. “The kind of arrogance and authoritarian leadership that we experienced as faculty was really just a symptom of this lifestyle that obviously was one in which he thought that he could do anything and get away with it.”