The war of words between a former pool attendant and Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife Becki escalated on Friday morning as Giancarlo Granda claimed on “Good Morning America” that Falwell “enjoyed watching” him have sex with the former Liberty University president’s wife.
“He was aware from day one of our relationship and he did, in fact, watch,” Granda, 29, told George Stephanopoulos.
Granda contends that in the spring of 2012, Becki Falwell began to flirt with him at the Miami hotel where he worked and invited him to a hotel room for sex, telling him her husband liked to watch. He said he soon met Falwell — a leading voice in Christian conservative politics — for the first time.
“Jerry was laying on the bed,” Granda said. “He was drunk, and he was giggling.”
Granda said that the two men awkwardly discussed the parameters of the impending sexual encounter. He insisted that during that first encounter he reassured Falwell that if the older man became uncomfortable, he would leave,
“Hey,” he said he told Falwell anxiously, “if at any point you get jealous or you want me to back off, just let me know and I’ll walk out of here.”
Granda said Falwell reassured him, urging him to “go for it.”
“He enjoyed watching,” said Granda, who told ABC News that the sexual encounters continued “multiple times a year” until 2018 in hotels in Miami, New York and at the Falwells’ Virginia home.
Granda said that the Falwells told him during that first encounter that they had visited a Miami swingers’ club the previous night but that they weren’t comfortable.
“She mentioned that they were actually at a swinger’s club the night before but they said it wasn’t their thing … they wanted a more intimate session.”
Falwell and his wife have vigorously denied most of Granda’s charges. A spokesperson for the Falwells directed questions to Granda’s attorneys, who did not immediately respond to a list of emailed questions from ABC News.
Granda and the Falwells have been waging a very public battle over the details of a yearslong relationship that both parties acknowledge included a Miami real estate deal and sex between the young man and Becki Falwell — but diverge sharply on the length and the nature of the sexual relationship and the dissolution of the business deal.
Earlier this week, Falwell claimed in a statement that he wasn’t involved in what he described as a brief 2012 affair between Granda and his wife — and that he and his wife have long since reconciled.
On Monday, Reuters published an explosive interview with Granda, 29, in which he contended that his seven-year affair with Becki Fallwell began in 2012 – when he was 20 years old. He said that Jerry Falwell Jr. watched his wife’s sexual trysts with the younger man from the corner of the room or through video cameras. He provided text messages, screenshots and audio to corroborate his account, according to Reuters. Granda also provided one of the audio tapes to ABC News.
The report suggested the news organization had been working on the story for some time — and noted that Reuters had first presented its findings to the Falwells nearly a week earlier.
While the Falwells have claimed Granda is trying to extort them, he maintains that he is simply trying to dissolve their business partnership and sell his 25% stake in the venture.
“That’s false,” Granda said of the extortion claims. “That’s ridiculous. That’s just them trying to smear me.” He mocked the idea that “a 20-year-old” was “targeting and preying upon this power couple.”
To underscore his point that the Falwells once trusted him, Granda provided ABC News with a recommendation letter he contends that Falwell wrote for him to Georgetown University in 2018. In the letter, Falwell writes that Granda is “consistent … dependable” and operates “with the highest business and ethics standards.”
Granda also sought to qualify a previous statement he’d made accusing Falwell of sending him a compromising picture of a female Liberty University student — a photo that the Falwells insist was innocent fun.
He said he was having drinks with the couple at a Miami hotel when Jerry Falwell Jr. sent him the picture.
“I don’t know context of the photo … The point is why did he have that picture, why did he share it and why was he publicly joking with him.”
Granda denied any political motivations for coming forward now as election season is heating up — but said that he is being represented pro bono by a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, a campaign that is working to prevent Trump’s reelection. The adviser was brought on by Granda’s attorney, Aaron Resnick, he told ABC News producers.
‘Right from the beginning’
Falwell was the earliest and most potent voice in the Evangelical Christian community to endorse Trump’s bid for the White House, a fact the president has frequently acknowledged.
“Jerry Falwell Jr. just endorsed me — from Liberty University,” Trump told Stephanopoulos in a Jan. 31, 2016 interview, “… which is probably one of the reasons I went so high with the Evangelicals.”
At the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in June 2019, Trump described Falwell, 58, as “a friend of mine [who] was with me right from the beginning.”
‘I was not involved’
Yet earlier this week that bond, forged over years, began to strain at a decisive moment for the president.
The first hints of impending trouble for the Falwells surfaced on Sunday — the eve of the Republican National Convention — when the Washington Examiner published a lengthy statement, dotted with Biblical quotes, from Jerry Falwell Jr.
Falwell’s statement reported that “more than eight years ago,” his wife Becki Falwell had what he described as a brief affair — “something in which I was not involved” — with an unidentified young man the couple had met and befriended and with whom they ultimately went into business.
He contended that the man involved had been threatening to go public about the relationship “to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies.”
Falwell had already been on an indefinite leave of absence from his university duties since Aug. 7, after he posted and later deleted a photo on social media which showed him with his arm around the waist of his wife’s assistant. In the photo, both parties’ pants are partially unzipped, and Falwell refers to the drink in his hand as “a prop” in the photo’s caption. Falwell apologized for posting the photo and said “it was in good fun” from a costume party he attended.
Late on Monday night, Falwell formally resigned from his position as university president and stepped down from the school’s board of directors.
Yet the mutual recriminations continued into Tuesday, as the nation prepared to hear key RNC speeches that evening from first lady Melania Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We couldn’t take this torture anymore, so we went public with the story,” Becki Falwell, 53, told ABC News’ Kyra Phillips early Tuesday morning. “And Jerry resigned to protect the reputation of the university that he and his family spent their lives building.”
Falwell told Phillips that he considered himself more of a businessman than a spiritual leader.
“I was never called to be a pastor,” he said. “My calling was to use my legal and business expertise to make Liberty University the evangelical version of Notre Dame. Some of us are called to be preachers, that wasn’t mine. I was called to make Liberty University the greatest Christian university in the world and I couldn’t have done that as a preacher.”
By Tuesday evening, Granda was out with a new statement which charged that the Falwells had minimized their roles and responsibility for the relationship that appears to have developed.
“The Falwells would have you believe that I seduced Becki into an affair, without Jerry’s knowledge, and then spent the intervening 7 years trying to extort them,” Granda said in a statement released late Tuesday.
Granda contended that “the truth is, they approached me. She invited me to their hotel room. They offered me an equity partnership in a property venture. They brought me on multiple trips and vacations, including to their family farm in Virginia. And as recently as last year, participated in video calls where Mrs. Falwell was naked and Jerry was watching.”
Both sides described each other in dueling statements this week as “a predator” or “predators.”
ABC News’ Chris Francescani, Kyra Phillips, Chris Donovan, Alisha Davis, Claire Brinberg and Kaitlyn Folmer contributed to this report.