Liberty University’s pastor has apologized to students for former president Jerry Falwell Jr.’s ‘sinful’ behavior after he stepped down this week amid a sex scandal with a pool boy who had an affair with his wife.
David Nasser, the university pastor, gave a speech to students after Falwell Jr.’s resignation where he told them they ‘deserve better’.
The sermon was live-streamed to more than 30,000 people online and outraged Falwell who called Nasser afterwards and demanded to know what sin he’d committed.
Falwell Jr., 58, this week stepped down amid a firestorm of claims about his relationship with Giancarlo Granda, a 29-year-old pool boy who had an affair with his wife Becki.
Falwell Jr. claimed that he and Becki had an affair, that he found out about it and was devastatsed, but that he was in no way involved.
Granda, however, says he used to watch them having sex, sometimes in his Speedos, and that he was complicit.
The tawdry affair brings an end to Falwell Jr.’s rule over the school in Virginia, which his pastor father founded in 1971. It also strays from his strict Christian morals and the goes entirely against what is taught to students at the school.
It also comes a year after unnamed staffers at Liberty spoke out against Falwell Jr. anonymously, calling him a ‘dictator’ who was more concerned with profits than the teachings of the Lord.
Nasser told current students: ‘I am sorry. In my opinion, you as a Liberty student deserve better.
‘And the embarrassment that’s been brought upon you as a Liberty student, and more importantly brought upon the name of Christ, is wrong.
‘I know that many of you are hurting and that breaks my heart.
‘Your concerns — if you’re concerned — are valid. If you’re not concerned, you should be concerned.
He went on to say they were ‘right to want to see stern and swift accountable action for sinful behavior.’
‘It’s okay to call sin, sin. You know why? Because it is the only way to actually start to deal with it. It is not love to simply stay in the dark, and not call shameful what God calls shameful.
‘And if we’re not willing to stand on that truth, then what in the world are we calling ourselves Christians for in the first place?’
Falwell Jr. has not expressed remorse for any of the ordeal. He was outraged by Nasser’s remarks and confronted him over them.
‘I called Nasser and asked him exactly what sin I committed. He couldn’t and wouldn’t answer. He just hung up and now won’t answer,’ he fumed to The News Advance, a local newspaper in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the university is based.
In his first statement and ever since, he’s claimed to be the victim of an extortion plan by Granda.
The saga began on Sunday night, when Jerry gave a long statement to The Washington Examiner, claiming he and his wife were being extorted.
He did not name Granda, but revealed that Becki had had an affair. He said he’d chosen to forgive her, but that finding out about it upset him so much he lost 80lbs.
He then claimed that their lawyers had told them to stay in touch and remain friendly with Granda, with whom they run a gay-friendly hostel in Miami.
Granda, in an interview with Reuters, then claimed that not only did Jerry know about the affair, but that he watched him and Becki having sex.
He said the trio met in 2012, when he was working as a pool boy at the Fontainebleau in Miami, and says Becki picked him up.
He claims she told him he needed someone more experienced than the young girls he was talking to and that she brought him to her hotel room, where Jerry was waiting in Speedos.
The pair then had sex in front of Jerry, he claims.
In 2015, the couple tried to cut ties with Granda by buying him out of their Miami hostel. It coincided with Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign, which they endorsed enthusiastically.
Granda did not agree to the terms and they remained in business. In 2018, the relationship soured, he said.
The couple have also had legal issues in the past with Gordon Bello, another young man who claims he had a ‘personal relationship’ with Becki. He said in a lawsuit that he was owed a stake in the hostel. The lawsuit was settled privately for an undisclosed amount last year.
The couple have also given a former Liberty University student and personal trainer help setting up his own business. Benjamin Crosswhite trained the couple in 2011 and later. In 2016, Liberty gave him a health and fitness center on campus.
The Granda scandal comes after questions and criticism over Jerry’s leadership at the Christian university.
He was in the past accused of using the university purse to give favors to friends, and disgruntled staffers said he ran it more like a ‘real estate hedge fund’ than a college.
The university has amassed more than $500million in assets since he took over. Much of it is down to him taking in online students.
Liberty was founded in 1971 by Jerry’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr., or ‘big Jerry’, as some on campus call him.