Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. Placed On ‘Indefinite Leave Of Absence’ After Unzipped Pants Photo Surfaces
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. agreed on Friday to take an “indefinite leave of absence” at the school’s trustees’ request. The leave is effective immediately and applies to both his roles as president and chancellor.
On Friday, the executive committee of the university’s Board of Trustees assembled, without the entire board, and requested that Falwell take an indefinite leave of absence, on behalf of the whole board.
The university issued a statement Friday, saying “The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”
NEWS: Jerry Falwell Jr. is taking “indefinite leave of absence” from Liberty University. pic.twitter.com/kl8SF8Omcy
— Michael Stratford (@mstratford) August 7, 2020
The statement provided no reason for the request, but it comes after a recent social media photo scandal. On Sunday, Falwell had posted an image of himself with his pants unzipped and what looked like alcohol on a yacht vacation. The image also featured a woman whose pants were also unzipped. He almost immediately deleted it after. However, a Houston Chronicle reporter had already retained a copy and shared it over Twitter.
wut is happening pic.twitter.com/8iEOr9EeRQ
— Robert Downen (@RobDownenChron) August 3, 2020
The photo went viral and caused condemnation from several high-profile figures, including Rep. Mark Walker, a minister who has ties to the university and called on Falwell to resign.
Walker, who is also a Liberty University Faculty Advisory Board Member and former instructor, tweeted on Thursday afternoon, “Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling … I’m convinced Falwell should step down … None of us are perfect, but students, faculty, alumni and @LUPraise deserve better.”
Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling.
As a Music Faculty Advisory Board Member and former instructor @LibertyU, I’m convinced Falwell should step down.
None of us are perfect, but students, faculty, alumni and @LUPraise deserve better.
— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) August 6, 2020
Falwell apologized for the photo in an interview Wednesday morning on the Morningline show on WLNI 105.9FM, a local radio station in Lynchburg, Va., where Liberty University is located. Lynchburg is also Falwell’s hometown.
During the interview, he claimed that it had been “just in good fun” and that it was part of a “costume party.”
Falwell also identified the woman and apologized, adding, “Yeah, it was weird. She’s pregnant. She couldn’t get her pants zipped and I was like trying to like… I had on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time and couldn’t get zipped either. So, I just put my belly out like hers. She’s my wife’s assistant she’s a sweetheart. I should have never put it up and embarrassed her. I’ve apologized to everybody. I promised my kids I will try to be a good boy from here on out.”
Students from the university expressed outrage over the photo, as there is a strict student code of conduct. In which, Falwell nearly broke several significant tenets of the code of conduct and university values in one picture – these include a strict dress code and no alcohol. It requires no interacting with the opposite gender at night.