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Home/Rod Dreher/Claim: Becki Falwell Had Sex With LU Student

Claim: Becki Falwell Had Sex With LU Student

President of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr. rides with his wife Becki and a grandchild in the school's annual homecoming weekend parade on October 20, 2018 in Lynchburg, Virginia (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Politico’s Brandon Ambrosino reports today a new development in the Falwell scandal:

A former Liberty University student says Becki Falwell, the wife of the university’s then-President Jerry Falwell Jr., jumped into bed with him and performed oral sex on him while he stayed over at the Falwell home after a band practice with her eldest son in 2008.

The student was 22 at the time of the encounter, near the start of Liberty’s fall semester. He said she initiated the act, and he went along with it. But despite his rejection of further advances, he said, Falwell continued pursuing him, offering him gifts and engaging in banter through Facebook messages.

“She was the aggressor,” he said.

The messages, screenshots of which were provided by the former student to POLITICO, suggest a flirtatious relationship that went beyond what might be expected of a mother communicating with her son’s bandmate.

More:

POLITICO first contacted the former student in 2019, after hearing of his alleged sexual encounter with Falwell from former classmates. He confirmed the encounter but didn’t want to go public with it until recent weeks, when the Falwells’ behavior came under scrutiny. POLITICO granted the former student anonymity to describe what he considered inappropriate advances from a woman who was herself a university employee and wife of the university president.

He said he did not feel comfortable discussing the encounter earlier because he suffered from feelings of guilt and depression, feared exposure, and didn’t want to cause harm to the Falwell family.

Read it all. The Falwells deny the allegation. The unnamed man was a Liberty student at the time of the alleged sexual encounter. Though he was an adult (therefore able to consent), the story he tells is a “Stacy’s mom” scenario (see the Fountains of Wayne hit from ages ago) in which she groomed her son’s bandmate, and later came into his bedroom at the Falwell house, and performed a sex act on him. Again, the Falwells deny the allegation, but we already know from what they have admitted about the Pool Boy that Becki Falwell had an extramarital affair. If this latest allegation is true, then it is a sign of her sexual recklessness.

Are there more people like him?

What’s more — and this is an important distinction — at the time of the alleged incident, the young man was a student at Liberty University. Becki was the wife of the university president. That raises a big consent issue. Notice this, from Ambrosino’s story (emphasis mine):

In a statement provided to POLITICO by Liberty University senior vice president Scott Lamb, the school reiterated that it has “policies against employees having sexual relationships with students, as well as having other inappropriate relationships outside of marriage, whether consensual or not. Becki Falwell was an employee in 2008 and such policies would have fully applied to her as spouse of the then-university Chancellor and President. Liberty University has checked its Human Resources and Title IX records and finds no complaints were ever lodged against Becki Falwell for any inappropriate relationship nor were any investigations of such matters conducted. This is a fresh allegation, as far as we can tell.”

This is potentially huge. Leaving aside the abuse of power and the gross immorality of Becki’s alleged act,  opens Liberty up to legal liability. It has already been established, by the admission of Jerry Jr., that Becki had an extramarital affair. It has been reported that it was with Giancarlo Granda, and it lasted for six years, though those details have not been confirmed by the Falwells. The point is, we know that Becki has committed adultery. If this new allegation is true — Politico says it has seen screenshots of her flirtatious text banter with her son’s former friend, and its reporter talked to people who confirm that the unnamed young man told them at the time that Becki forced oral sex on him — then Liberty University could be in serious legal trouble if it can be proved that Becki had sexual relations with other students.

Let’s assume that Liberty’s spokesman is telling the truth about there being no complaints lodged against Becki Falwell. Can Liberty be certain that there were never any other potential complainants who were bought off somehow by Jerry Jr., who — to raise a hypothetical — could have set them up in business or helped in some other material way to buy their silence? Or perhaps these hypothetical victims could have been too afraid to cross the Falwells, or maybe, like this alleged victim, are Evangelicals who did not want to hurt the Falwell family? Were students or employees of Liberty who knew about these hypothetical actions free to report them, or were they too afraid to break silence?

I ask because we who covered the Catholic Church scandal know how this kind of thing worked there: victims of clerical sexual predators: victims’ shame was manipulated by powerful churchmen to shut them down or to allow the institutional Church to buy their silence with an off-the-books settlement. And those who worked for the Church who knew something bad was going on were too afraid of retaliation to speak out against it.

Let me be clear: at this point,we do not know, or have reason to believe, that any of this happened with Becki Falwell. She and her husband deny this allegation. But based on what we do know, I do not see how Liberty University can avoid hiring an independent outside investigator now, to look into whether or not the allegations in the Granda case and this case are true, and whether or not there has been a pattern of behavior involving the reckless Mrs. Falwell. The university cannot afford to be held hostage to fear that its former president’s wife, herself an employee of the university, may have engaged in legally actionable and morally compromising sexual behavior with students or other employees. The risk to Liberty University’s reputation is grave.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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