The executive committee of Liberty University's board of trustees voted to place Jerry Falwell Jr., the college's president, on indefinite leave after a photograph of him with a woman was posted online.
Falwell, who has been Liberty University's president since 2007, agreed to the leave of absence, the university said.
The board request comes after a photo posted about one week ago on Falwell's Instagram account (and pictured left) showed him with his trousers unzipped with his arm around a young woman. As a Music Faculty Advisory Board Member and former [email protected], I'm convinced Falwell should step down.
"How is this Jerry Falwell Jr. photo even real?" tweeted conservative TV personality Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S. Sen.
"More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht", the accompanying caption read.
"If you're running the largest Christian university in America maybe don't put photos of yourself on social media with your trousers undone on a yacht - with random women in bad wigs".
He said the woman - who also had her midriff exposed - was pregnant, couldn't get her trousers zipped and he imitated her, saying it was all in "good fun". "And so, I just put my belly out like hers". "I was like. trying to like".
The photo of Falwell went viral after Robert Downen, a faith and religion writer for the Houston Chronicle, shared a screenshot of the photo to his Twitter account. He said the school received more phone calls and emails from pastors around the country than it ever had before.
On Wednesday, in an interview on WLNI's MorningLine, Falwell provided some context to the photo while also noting that he has apologized to all who were personally affected by the photo. The board's quick decision Friday, he said, was shocking because the leaders have not reprimanded Falwell for his other controversial behavior. In May, he tweeted a photo of a face mask decorated with an image of a person in Ku Klux Klan robes and another in blackface, in an attempt to taunt Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, over his blackface scandal.