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Liberty University To Investigate Jerry Falwell Jr’s Tenure As President

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Liberty University is opening an unbiased investigation into Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tenure as president, a wide-ranging inquiry that may embrace monetary, actual property and authorized issues, the evangelical college’s board introduced Monday.

In an announcement, the board stated it had retained an outdoor agency to analyze “all aspects” of the varsity’s operations beneath Falwell, and that it was “dedicated to studying the results which have flowed from an absence of non secular stewardship by our former president.”

Requires such an investigation had been mounting since Falwell’s departure final week from the put up he had held since 2007.

He formally resigned on Tuesday, after a complicated day of back-and-forths about whether or not he can be leaving. His departure got here after a information outlet revealed an interview with Giancarlo Granda, a a lot youthful enterprise companion of the Falwell household. Granda stated that he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Becki Falwell and that Jerry Falwell participated in a number of the liaisons as a voyeur.

Though the Falwells have acknowledged that Granda and Becki Falwell had an affair, Jerry Falwell has denied any participation. The couple allege that Granda sought to extort them by threatening to disclose the connection except he was paid substantial monies.

The couple stated in an announcement offered to The Related Press late Sunday that they help Liberty’s board and “welcome any inquiry as we’ve got nothing to cover.” A Falwell consultant declined additional remark when reached on Monday.

Granda, 29, has denied attempting to extort the Falwells, however advised the AP that he presently has no plans to pursue authorized motion in opposition to them. He stated he does need to see an unbiased investigation of the varsity, nonetheless. Primarily based on what he noticed of the varsity’s administration beneath Falwell, Granda described it as run “like a monarchy.”

Falwell took over because the president of Liberty after the loss of life of his well-known evangelist father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. He oversaw a interval of expansive development and transformation: Liberty’s on-line program exploded, as did its endowment; the campus underwent an enormous transformation; and the athletics packages improved.

Falwell additionally stayed within the information for a sequence of divisive remarks in addition to his vocal help of President Donald Trump, and was the topic of stories tales that centered on his enterprise dealings.

Liberty’s assertion acknowledged that Falwell’s sharpest critics have lengthy been calling for a departure.

“Some might say that every one the indicators had been there for a very long time earlier than final week,” the assertion stated. “It’s definitely honest to say that there have been questionable feedback made, worrying habits, and inappropriate social media posts, however all of the indicators weren’t there till the beginning of final week.”

That was not adequate for a few of Falwell’s most vocal opponents. Save71, a lately shaped nonprofit aimed toward mobilizing college students, alumni and school to push for reform, stated in an announcement that the board “must disclose much more about this investigation for the Liberty group to belief its legitimacy.”

The board’s assertion didn’t title the agency it has employed, and a board spokesman didn’t return a request for touch upon the corporate’s id.

Others had been extra inspired.

Karen Swallow Prior, a lately departed English professor at Liberty who had been important of Falwell, stated the investigation announcement was excellent news.

“I hope that they adhere to the best requirements of not solely investigation but additionally reporting the findings,” added Prior, a outstanding Christian educational who now teaches at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

David Nasser, Liberty’s senior vp for non secular improvement, rapidly praised the board’s actions, suggesting that different college leaders are keen to maneuver past the Falwell period. Days earlier, Nasser publicly apologized to college students for the “embarrassment” he stated Falwell’s scandals had triggered the varsity.

In Monday’s assertion asserting the investigation, Liberty’s board additionally stated it’s contemplating establishing a put up aimed toward providing non secular steering for college leaders to make sure they “stay out the Christian stroll anticipated of each one in every of us at Liberty.”

The thought underscores the board’s concern over the diploma to which Falwell’s alleged private conduct would have violated the varsity’s behavioral codes. Earlier than his resignation, Falwell had already been on an indefinite depart of absence after an uproar over a photograph he posted on social media of him and his spouse’s pregnant assistant, each with their pants unzipped.

Falwell stated it was taken in good enjoyable at a fancy dress social gathering throughout a trip, however critics noticed it as proof of hypocrisy by the top of an establishment that holds college students to a strict ethical code of conduct. For his half, Falwell advised the AP final week that “I by no means broke a single rule that applies to workers members at Liberty, which I used to be.”

Related Press faith protection receives help from the Lilly Endowment by way of the Faith Information Basis. The AP is solely accountable for this content material.

Schor reported from New York.

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