Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, is taking an “indefinite leave of absence” from the Christian college following intense backlash after posting a questionable photo of himself with a young woman.
The university released a statement Friday revealing the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees met and “requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr., take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University.”
Falwell, whose father founded the Christian university in 1971, agreed and will step aside “immediately.”
The photo in question appeared to be posted to Falwell’s personal Instagram account, though it has since been deleted.
In the picture, which was apparently taken on a yacht during a vacation with family and friends, Falwell could be seen with his pants partially unzipped with his arm around a young woman whom he later identified to be his wife Becki’s assistant. Her pants were also partially unzipped and both of their stomachs were showing.
The controversial university leader wrote in the caption that the presumably alcoholic beverage in his hand was actually “a prop” and was just “black water.”
He said the photo was “just in good fun.” Others, though, pointed out that, had a student posted a similar photograph, he or she could face fines and possible expulsion from the Christian university.
The decision by Liberty comes on the heels of comments from Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who called for Falwell’s resignation after he shared the photo. Walker, a former Baptist pastor who used to teach at Liberty and serves as an adviser to the college, described Falwell’s recent behavior as “appalling.”
“This pattern of behavior has become troubling,” Walker said during an appearance Friday afternoon on CNN, suggesting Falwell take an indefinite leave of absence from the evangelical school.
Falwell, for his part, said during a radio interview Wednesday that he has “apologized to everybody” and has “promised” he’s “gonna try to be a good boy from here on out.”