Phrases found on souvenir shot glasses seldom offer sage advice. For example, what happens in Miami does not, in fact, always stay in Miami.
Alas, this is a lesson we all must learn for ourselves, and Trump-loving evangelist Jerry Falwell Jr. appears to have learned it the hard way. Last night, the Washington Examiner published an exclusive 1,200-word statement from Falwell explaining that his wife, Becki, had an "inappropriate personal relationship" with "an ambitious young man" the couple met at their hotel on a vacation eight years ago. Those who've been following the saga over the past few years can fill in the blanks — previous reporting by Politico, the Miami Herald, and other outlets revealed that the Falwells met 20-year-old pool boy Giancarlo Granda at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach and later purchased an Alton Road hostel with Granda for $4.6 million in 2013.
This afternoon, Granda went public with his own exclusive, sharing details about the relationship in a Reuters report. Granda told Reuters correspondent Aram Roston that from 2012 to 2018, he had sex with Becki Falwell "multiple times per year" while Jerry Falwell watched. Those encounters took place at hotels in Miami, as well as in New York and at the Falwells' home in Virginia, according to Granda.
"Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room," Granda told Roston.
Earlier this month, Falwell was compelled to take a leave of absence from his post as president of the ultra-religious Liberty University after an uproar about a photo he posted on Instagram that showed him on a yacht posing next to a woman he later identified as his wife's assistant; both had their pants partially unzipped.
In his statement to the Examiner, Falwell insinuated that he and his wife were opening up about her affair only after being backed into a corner by Granda.
"During this time of reflection for us and this especially challenging year, and even more so following the events of the past few weeks, my wife Becki and I agreed that this was the right time for me to share more of our story, because the Liberty community deserves to hear it directly from me and from us," Falwell stated.
Falwell sought to characterize the affair as something between Granda and his wife. He wrote in the statement to the Examiner that "Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved."
But previous reporting on the couple's relationship with Granda portrayed the Falwells on friendly terms with the pool boy for a period of years, suggesting there was more to the story. Just a few months after Granda reportedly began having sex with Becki Falwell, the married couple sunk millions into a real estate deal with him. The business partnership eventually soured and led to a lawsuit from one of Granda's high school buddies who claimed he was unfairly cut out. (The case was settled late last year.)
Granda remained close with the Falwells, flying on their private jet and vacationing with them in the Florida Keys. In one photo obtained by the Miami Herald, Falwell posed with his arm wrapped around his wife's lover at the Cheeca Lodge, an upscale resort in Islamorada:
One of the photos of a naked Mrs. Falwell appear to have been taken at the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada. Look who was at the hotel, as well - Giancarlo Granda, the pool boy. https://t.co/6JaIUGYZPw pic.twitter.com/uAkFGKDwUD— Rob Wagner (@wagner_rob) June 19, 2019
As the above tweet touts, photos of Becki Falwell "in various states of undress" were apparently obtained and buried on the couple's behalf by Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen just a few years later, in 2015. At the time, Granda denied any knowledge of the photos or involvement with Cohen.
In his statement to the Examiner, Falwell claims the couple was forced to maintain a relationship with Granda in hopes of controlling the public narrative and keeping him from publicly revealing the affair. Falwell also accused Granda of trying to extort them of "substantial monies."
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Falwell alleged that Granda "may have targeted other successful women in similar ways," but he stopped short of providing details or corroborating evidence.
Granda's attorney, Aaron Resnick, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from New Times. Granda told the Examiner that "any allegation of extortion is falsely [sic], defamatory and belied by clear documentary evidence."
Granda provided photos, videos, and text messages to Reuters to bolster his claims about the sexual affair. For example, Reuters reviewed screenshots of a FaceTime phone call wherein Granda spoke to a naked Becki Falwell while her husband "peeked from behind a door."
Any new revelations could affect Falwell's future with Liberty University, where board members have said they are investigating "various rumors and claims about Falwell." Today's bombshell is likely to hurt Falwell's chance of returning to his post as president: As Reuters points out, Liberty University's own honor code forbids the type of behavior Granda says the Falwells engaged in. Per the school's guidelines, "Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University."