Mere days after allegations came out that the now-former president of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife Becki Falwell were involved in a long-standing affair with their business partner Giancarlo Granda, Politico is reporting that a former Liberty University student has come forward to allege that he had a “sexual encounter” with Becki Falwell back in 2008.
The former student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, claims that he first met Becki at the age of 22 when he was attending Liberty University, and the Falwells’ eldest son Trey joined his band. Although Trey was several years younger than the other band members, he was a talented guitarist, and the Falwells allowed the band to practice in an abandoned church next to the family home in Goode, Virginia. The student and other members of the band recall when Becki began showing up at their rehearsals, offering them snacks but then staying to watch them practice.
“I could tell she was giving me looks, but [I] wanted to downplay it,” the former student said. “I would think, ‘Am I reading too much into this?’ She would speak almost … she’d always give little innuendos. Almost like she was speaking in code.”
Not long after classes resumed for Liberty University’s fall 2008 semester, Becki allegedly became more forward with the student.
I’ll never forget, she corners me and goes, ‘Have you told your friends?’ I say, ‘Excuse me?’ She goes, ‘Have you told your friends that I think you’re hot?’” the former student recalled. “She’s standing there with her eyes locked on me, waiting to see what I’d say. I probably laughed it off, like, ‘Haha. No, I haven’t told them that one.’”
Still, the student remained in the band with Trey Falwell, often hanging out at his house late into the evening as the two jammed on their guitars and drank whiskey together. If it got too late, it wasn’t uncommon for him to crash on the pull-out bed in the Falwell’s guest room. One evening, he said he walked into the guest room to find Becki waiting for him. He eventually talked her into leaving, he told Politico, and then went to sleep as if nothing had happened.
A few nights later, he crashed on the pull-out bed another time, and said that once again Becki was waiting for him. Becki allegedly climbed into bed with the student, pulled down his pants, and proceeded to give him oral sex.
In the weeks and months after the encounter, the student claims that he continued to receive messages, requests, and other unwanted advances from Becki. At first, he said Becki messaged him from a fake Facebook account, where she was posing as a blonde woman in her early 20s from North Carolina.
“She was saying stuff a 20 and 21-year-old wouldn’t say,” he said. “[It was] like real Southern charm. Stuff that older people say. And I said [to myself], ‘Hold up, not only is this an old person, it’s Becki.’”
“So I said, ‘I think I have a feeling who this is. Why are you doing this right now on this account?’” the former student recalled. “I think she was embarrassed, because I kinda remember her being defensive about it.”
In the future, Becki Falwell allegedly messaged him directly from her own Facebook account, remaining persistent in her advances towards the 22-year-old student who—let’s not forget—attended an evangelical Christian school where having sex outside of marriage could be punishable by expulsion. (The Politico article contains screenshots of Facebook messages between Becki Falwell and the former student, supporting details of the communication that allegedly occurred between them.)
Even as the then-student tried to stay away from Falwell, he said, she continued making advances. “I was getting phone call after phone call after phone call after phone call from her — I’m in class! — leaving me a message, like, the corniest thing you could do, like [singing the James Blunt song] ‘You’re Beautiful,’ leaving it on my [voicemail],” he remembered. “I just said, ‘This can’t happen anymore.’”
The former student remembers that a line was crossed when Falwell attempted to befriend his mother, who had driven to visit the university to see one of his band’s performances.
“[Falwell said], ‘Oh, let’s get your mother’s number,’” the former student said. “My poor mother worships the ground Jerry Falwell Sr. walks on, just considering what he did for American Evangelicals. So she was getting the biggest kick out of Becki calling her. I had to tell [Falwell], ‘Hey, please do not contact my family.’”
So not only did Becki Falwell allegedly attempt to begin a sexual relationship with a young adult who was a student at the university where her husband was president, a situation that gave her a significant amount of power over him, she also allegedly attempted to manipulate him further by befriending his mother? What a gross and inappropriate means of inserting yourself in the life of someone who clearly does not want you there.
The former Liberty University student decided to come forward with his story so many years later because he now sees the interactions as an abuse of power by Becki Falwell. He believes that Becki trusted him to keep this story private because she knew he cared about the school, and worried that by sharing his story, he would be corrupting the legacy of the late Jerry Falwell Sr., who was president of Liberty University before he passed away in 2007.
“Usually I think about a middle-aged man grooming someone,” the former student said. “It’s funny how it happened with the whole, ‘Me Too’ [movement]. I’m on the other end of the spectrum [from] men harassing women. I found [that] a lot of the traits that these guys had, [Falwell] had as well.”
According to Politico, Jerry and Becki Falwell’s only response to to the former student’s allegations has been this statement:
“It is unfortunate that the coverage of our departure has turned into a frenzy of false and fantastic claims about us. These false and mean spirited lies have hurt us and our family greatly and we will respond fully with the truth at an appropriate time. At this time, however, we think it is best to move on and help the Liberty community focus on its very bright future…”
Oh, no evangelical moral purity now?