After being placed on a leave of absence for posting an inappropriate picture on Instagram, the President of Christian institution Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, has now released a statement claiming his wife had an affair with their pool boy.
In comments shared with US conservative news website The Washington Examiner, Falwell Jr says his wife's alleged indiscretion has led to years of threats, extortion, blackmail issued by their pool attendant and former business associate - an ordeal that Falwell says plunged him into a state of emotional turmoil.
Falwell explained: "During a vacation over eight years ago, Becki and I met an ambitious young man who was working at our hotel and was saving up his money to go to school. We encouraged him to pursue an education and a career and we were impressed by his initiative in suggesting a local real estate opportunity.
"My family members eventually made an investment in a local property, included him in the deal because he could play an active role in managing it, and became close with him and his family."
Falwell detailed that his wife then developed an "inappropriate personal relationship with this person", causing him to unravel emotionally.
"I lost 80 pounds and people who saw me regularly thought that I was physically unwell," he said, "when in reality I was just balancing how to be most supportive of Becki, who I love, while also reflecting and praying about whether there were ways I could have been more supportive of her and given her proper attention".
The former attorney said he "came to realizse that while it may be easy to judge others on their behavior, the King James Bible reminds us - “Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I sayeth unto you, that whoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart.” In fact, there are ways we may all be sinning, but the Lord believes in this self-reflection."
Falwell added that he and Becki managed to reconcile and repair their marriage following the infidelity. "Thankfully, our love has never been stronger," he wrote. "Becki and I forgave each other, because while her indiscretion may have been more obvious and apparent, I realised that there were important smaller things I needed to do better too."
Falwell went on to detail that he and his wife had tried to distance themselves from the man, but said he became "increasingly angry and aggressive" and made financial demands of the pair, threatening to break his silence on the affair if they didn't comply.
"We tried to manage his increasingly erratic behavior and unreasonable demands while extricating ourselves from him both on a personal level and from that real estate transaction," he said. "It was like living on a roller coaster."
The executive explained how he and his wife had been "suffering in silence" as they attempted to "manage and deal with this increasingly threatening behavior, which only worsened over time."
"We were doing our best to respectfully unravel this ‘fatal attraction’ type situation to protect our family and the University," he added.
The university executive also revealed that has been "seeking to address the emotional toll" that the situation had taken on him by engaging in mental health treatment. "I shouldn’t have been afraid to admit my vulnerabilities and to reach out for assistance from the mental health professionals who could have alleviated this pain and stress," he added.
"I am committed to speaking out and sharing with others at Liberty the importance of seeking counselling instead of thinking you need to be tough and try to bear these burdens on your own. I am in the early stages of addressing these issues.
“The trauma of this experience has brought us to a very challenging point in our lives, but we are strong, our faith in Christ is greater than ever, and with His help and with those in the community who we love and who appreciate the impact of forgiveness, we will get through this. We ask for your prayers and support.”
Falwell remains of his leave of absence, with Liberty University saying it has yet to come to a decision on whether to terminate his position or reinstate him. “The University and its Board members have decided to not publicly comment on the various rumours and claims about Falwell at this time," it said in a statement last week. "Instead, the Board intends to use this time of leave to look into them as part of the process of determining what is in the best interest of Liberty University."