Liberty: Falwell agreed to resign, then reversed course

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE -This Wednesday Nov. 28, 2018 file photo shows Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr., right, and his wife, Becky during after a town hall at a convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Falwell Jr. says he is seeking help for the "emotional toll" from an affair his wife had with a man who he says later threatened his family. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. – Jerry Falwell Jr.’s future at evangelical Liberty University amid a sex scandal was uncertain Monday, after the school said he had offered his resignation but then reversed course.

Falwell agreed to “resign immediately as President of Liberty University today but then instructed his attorneys to not tender the letter for immediate resignation,” according to a university news release distributed late Monday night.

The news of Falwell's possible departure followed the publication of news stories about his wife’s sexual encounters with a much younger business partner. They marked the latest in a series of controversies related to the couple to roil the school founded by Falwell's late father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.

"I call upon the University community and supporters to be in prayer for the University and for all its leadership, past, present and future, as we walk with the Lord through this stormy time of transition," Acting Liberty President Jerry Prevo said in the news release.

Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence since Aug. 7, following an uproar over a photo he posted on social media, and then deleted, showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and arm high around the waist of his wife’s pregnant assistant.

“Since that time, additional matters came to light that made it clear that it would not be in the best interest of the University for him to return from leave and serve as President,” according to the news release, which said the school's board was meeting Tuesday.

On Monday night, attorneys for Falwell and the school were negotiating the details of a possible departure, according to a person close to the school’s board of trustees who also spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss it.

Falwell did not return a call from the AP seeking comment, but several news outlets quoted Falwell as saying that he has not agreed to leave the post permanently.