Anti-LGBTQ+ evangelical Jerry Falwell, Jr. is under new scrutiny after aides have come out with accusations of misconduct and possible illegal activity.
A new report published Monday by Politico raises concerns from those close to Falwell about the ethics of the conservative leader’s behavior. According to insiders, Falwell has almost complete control over Liberty University, the Christian college where he serves as president, as the school’s board of trustees almost never challenges him in fear of being fired for speaking out.
Among the myriad allegations, Falwell reportedly arranged for John Gauger, a “fixer,” to try and get rid of pictures of him and his son partying at a nightclub in Miami. Both co-ed dancing and alcohol use can get students at Liberty University demerits or even expelled. Gauger’s marketing company, RedFinch, also was hired to defend Falwell by responding to comments on negative news articles about him, in addition to being hired by Michael Cohen to rig online polls in Donald Trump’s favor when he was preparing to run for president.
Politico reports that Falwell’s son, Trey, may be involved in the latter effort, while Falwell himself hired Cohen to “get rid” of some sexually explicit photos of him and his wife that could’ve made their way to the internet.
The connections between Falwell — whose evangelical father was the figurehead of the Moral Majority movement in the 1980s — and the president are well-documented. Falwell has done everything from encouraging students to vote for Trump in Gauger’s rigged polls and changing his school’s academic calendar in an effort to sway elections by getting students to vote (nonprofits aren’t allowed to try to influence elections) to making special Trump Liberty University merchandise to sell when the president spoke at the school.
Falwell also seems to be fond of bragging to his friends, including at least one employee, about his sex life with wife, Becki Tilley, even saying that “she couldn’t handle [his penis size].” He also reportedly shared with employees a photo of Tilley in a French maid costume.
Although Falwell denies the allegations, they are only the most recent controversies in an ever-growing list for the Christian figurehead. In the last year alone, Falwell has found himself caught up in two personal scandals involving his young personal trainer and a Miami pool boy named Giancarlo. In both cases, Falwell reportedly paid the men large sums of money to start businesses and received seemingly nothing in return.
There’s a particular irony to Falwell’s continued personal woes given that his family has a long history of oppressing the LGBTQ+ community. Liberty University bans sexual relationships “outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman,” and the school regularly tops lists of the most unsafe campuses for LGBTQ+ students.
Meanwhile, Falwell’s father — who died in 2007 — was one of America’s most virulently anti-LGBTQ+ figures. He blamed the September 11 attacks on “abortionists,” “feminists,” and “the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle” and claimed LGBTQ+ people “would just as soon kill you as look at you.” He also led a crusade against the Teletubbies character Tinky-Winky, believing his purple color and triangle symbol to be code for homosexuality.