One week after Reuters published an explosive report on an alleged sexual and financial relationship between Jerry Falwell Jr, his wife and a Miami man named Giancarlo Granda, responders were called to the Falwells’ house in Bedford County, Virginia.
According to records and 911 audio obtained by HuffPost, on the night of Aug. 30, Jerry Falwell Jr was intoxicated and apparently injured; his wife, Becki Falwell, described “a lot of blood right now.”
Alcohol use lurked behind the series of scandals that led Jerry Falwell Jr to resign as president of Liberty University last month. He initially announced a leave of absence from Liberty, a private evangelical university founded by his father, Jerry Falwell Sr, on August 7 after he posted a racy photo on Instagram with his pants unzipped, and his arm around a woman with her midriff exposed. A dark drink was in his hand, which he later claimed was “black water” that was “a prop only.” Liberty University stringently forbids alcohol use by students.
Jerry Falwell Jr resigned as president of Liberty on August 25, one day after Reuters published a story on Granda’s allegations he had a yearslong sexual relationship with Becki Falwell, with the approval of her husband, and that also led to some interlocking business relationships. In other news accounts, Granda claimed that the Falwells’ “lavish lifestyle consisted of heavy drinking and going to nightclubs, which is strictly prohibited by the honour code that they expect everyone else to follow.”
On August 31, Liberty’s board of trustees announced a comprehensive investigation by an outside firm of Jerry Falwell Jr’s tenure as president. Earlier that morning, around 2:30 am, Bedford County dispatchers received a 911 call from Becki Falwell.
She described being at church around 11 pm and receiving a call from her husband, who said he was bleeding after a fall down the stairs. Finding the doors locked when she got home, she used a chair to break through the back door.
The dispatcher asked whether her husband had been drinking alcohol; Becki Falwell said “yes.” When asked if he had been drinking “heavily,” she said, “I’m not going to answer that question.”
The dispatcher explained that alcohol thins the blood and could account for the excessive bleeding, and restated the question.
“The more I tell you the name, the more you’re going to understand why we’re not talking to you right now,” Becki Falwell said. Dispatch logs, obtained by HuffPost via a public records request, state that “He won’t let her take him to the hospital as he is stubborn. Caller was not forthcoming.”
But medics and emergency responders arrived at the residence later that night. A responder observed lacerations on Jerry Falwell Jr’s face, including under his left eye, across the bridge of his nose, and above both his right and left eyes. The responder also recorded in a report that Jerry Falwell Jr said he hit his head on a trash can, and that there was “blood in the area he indicated” as well as “empty alcohol containers.” The officer also noted “Jerry had slurred and slowed speach (sic) and would repeat things already asked.”
Neither the Falwells nor a lawyer reportedly hired by Jerry Falwell Jr responded to phone calls, voice messages or emails from HuffPost requesting comment. An email to Liberty University’s spokesman also went unanswered.
The son of an influential televangelist and megachurch co-founder, Jerry Falwell Jr had attracted attention for incendiary political commentary. In a 2015 speech, for example, he bragged about his concealed carry permit and said if more people had them, “we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.”
Many evangelicals forgo alcohol, which Jerry Falwell Sr. called “the worst, most offensive drug in American society.” The Liberty University code of conduct prohibits students from drinking — whether on or off campus, before or after age 21. The school requires students to submit to random breath, blood and urine tests to enforce the ban.
Jerry Falwell Jr was one of the earliest prominent evangelicals to back Donald Trump for president, and campaigned aggressively for him in the 2016 election.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that “Former school administrators said staff and donors complained that he showed up to campus appearing drunk or smelling of alcohol.” Jerry Falwell Jr told the Journal he did not come to campus drunk, though noted alcohol was not banned for faculty.
But Jerry Falwell Jr had long appeared anxious about his public image as it related to alcohol use. Politico asked him last month, on Aug. 21, about photos on the internet from 2014 of him partying at a Miami nightclub. He claimed the photos were “likely photo-shopped.” However, the Politico report says several Liberty staffers claim that when the photos came out several years ago, Jerry Falwell Jr urged Liberty’s head of IT to help him deprioritise the photos in Google search results.