In a lengthy profile at Vanity Fair, former Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. has opened up about his spectacular fall from the height of evangelical superstardom. While the article doesn’t exactly resolve the he said/she said/he said of the infamous, tabloid-ready scandal that enveloped Falwell, his wife Becki and Giancarlo Granda, known as “the pool boy,” it does delve into more of the Falwells’ interior thoughts and reflections on everything than most previous reporting has. Maybe most shocking is Falwell’s admission that he does not consider himself religious.
“Because of my last name, people think I’m a religious person. But I’m not,” Falwell says in the piece. “My goal was to make them realize I was not my dad.”
Falwell is frank about his late father Jerry Falwell Sr., the architect of who he says had a far more fraught and complex relationship with his fundamentalist reputation than many knew. He continues to deny Granda’s claims of a “throuple” situation, saying Becki and Granda had an affair behind Jerry’s back, although the three continued to do business together after it was revealed. Becki corroborates her husband’s version of events and also makes a very serious allegation of her own: that Granda coerced her into sex despite her protestations while he was staying at the Falwells’ farm.
Granda declined to comment for the article outside of saying their version of events was an “alternate reality” and referring to his own forthcoming book and Hulu documentary where he will tell his side of the story. Gabriel Sherman, who wrote the Vanity Fair piece, retains an understandable amount of skeptical objectivity on who exactly is telling the truth.
In Falwell’s telling, his endorsement and staunch support of former President Donald Trump was what riled his critics and led them to look for dirt to bring about his downfall. Anyone looking for dirt didn’t have to dig far. Falwell’s incendiary social media posts were already a problem, and that problem became a full-blown crisis after he posted a photo to Instagram with his shirt hiked up, his pants unzipped and a drink in one hand, arm around a Liberty employee. That, and Granda going public with his own story, culminated in Falwell stepping down from the leadership at the school his father founded.
The whole piece can be read here. It contains a colorful cast of characters (some expected, like Michael Cohen. Some a little more surprising, like Franklin Graham) and some photos of the Falwell family, seemingly faring well enough.