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Falwell to take an indefinite leave of absence

by Kyle Ziemnick
Posted 8/07/20, 06:48 pm

After drawing criticism over numerous public statements and scandals, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. apologized this week for posting a racy photo on Instagram. On Friday, the executive committee of the university’s Board of Trustees announced it had requested Falwell take an indefinite leave of absence from his positions as president and chancellor effective immediately, and Falwell agreed. The image, which he later deleted, showed him with his arm around his wife’s pregnant assistant, both of them with their midsections exposed and their pants partially unzipped. Falwell said they were posing just for fun but admitted he should not have posted it.

Hasn’t Falwell been in the news a lot lately? Last year, the son of the school’s late founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., settled a lawsuit with a pool attendant he and his wife were friends with over the ownership of a hostel in Miami Beach, Fla. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, experts and Liberty faculty members and students criticized Falwell and the school’s administration for continuing to have classes on campus—though no cases were reported there through the end of the school year. In May, he tweeted an image of a mask with a racially offensive photo, causing some faculty members and students to leave Liberty over concerns about racial insensitivity at the school.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read a report on Falwell’s battle with Liberty’s student newspaper over administrative censorship.

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Kyle Ziemnick

Kyle is a WORLD DIgital news reporter. He is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Kyle resides in Purcellville, Va. Follow him on Twitter @kylezim25.

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  • AlanE
    Posted: Sun, 08/09/2020 01:44 pm

    It's a sad day, but the housecleaning seems long overdue. It's a shame it takes something like a photo on social media to trigger this reaction.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Sun, 08/09/2020 03:41 pm

    I can't get past the photo of Falwell and Trump in front of a Playboy centerfold during the 2016 campaign. I know many people who attended, graduated and speak highly of Liberty University. I don't understand the accolades when their president has always acted like a frat brother. This was a good move on the part of the board of trustees. It's long overdue, and I hope he's gone for good without taking a wad of money with him.

  • Slats
    Posted: Sun, 08/09/2020 06:06 pm

    What is the status of Liberty Univ’s lawsuit against New York Times for intentionally reporting false reports of COVID 19 illnesses on campus?

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Mon, 08/10/2020 04:34 am

    I don't get any of this.  I don't understand why he would post the photo and I also don't understand why he would be canceled over it.

  • Ann Marshall
    Posted: Mon, 08/10/2020 08:35 am

    I can't speak to why he posted the photo, I can't even think why the depicted pose was assumed in the first place.  I think he was asked to step down because, for example, had a couple of Liberty students posed in like manner, they would have been eligible for expulsion. As they put it in the  military: you gotta lead from the front. 

    Posted: Mon, 08/10/2020 01:54 pm

    Long over-due response by the LU board. Good for them for finding the courage and conviction to hold Falwell to a Biblical standard.