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Falwell, 58, had taken an indefinite leave of absence on Aug. 7 from Liberty, the school he has run since 2007. The leave, announced in a terse statement from the school’s board of trustees, came days after Falwell posted, then deleted, the Instagram photo of himself with a young woman, whose pants were also partly undone.
Falwell later told a local radio station that the picture was meant as a good-natured joke.
If Falwell were to depart from Liberty University, it would represent a remarkable fall from grace for a man who has been a potent force in American conservative politics. His surprise 2016 endorsement of Trump helped him win the Republican nomination for president.
Becki Falwell, 53, is a political figure in her own right. She served on the advisory board of the group Women for Trump, which advocates for the president’s re-election campaign. She also spoke as part of a panel with her husband and Donald Trump Jr at last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the signature annual gathering of conservatives. Jerry Falwell and others refer to her as “the first lady of Liberty University.”
The university was founded in 1971 by Falwell’s televangelist father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Currently, the university boasts an online and on-campus enrollment that exceeds 100,000 students and holds those who attend to an exacting honor code. “Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University,” the code reads.