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Alex Wong/Getty; Shannon Finney/Getty; Facebook From left: Jerry Falwell Jr., Becki Falwell and Giancarlo Granda
Over a year after Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife Becki Falwell confirmed her affair with a former Miami pool attendant, the couple has opened up in detail about the scandal, which led to Falwell Jr.'s resignation from Liberty University.
In a series of exclusive interviews with Vanity Fair, the spouses — who say they've been able to move forward from the drama together — are shedding new light on the events leading up to the affair as well as its aftermath.
Their lives first took a drastic turn following the 2007 death of Jerry's father, pastor and Liberty founder Jerry Falwell Sr.
Although Falwell Jr. had helped his father save Liberty from financial ruin in the past, he claimed, becoming president of the evangelical school presented a unique challenge.
"Because of my last name, people think I'm a religious person. But I'm not," Falwell Jr., 59, told Vanity Fair in the interview, going on to call the period after his father's death "the worst three months of my life."
"There was so much pressure on me to become somebody I wasn't," recalled Falwell Jr., who is known for making controversial comments about Muslims, weapons and the LQBTQ community. "I'd wake up each day saying, 'How am I going to do this?' "
Added 54-year-old Becki, who became the first lady of Liberty, "We had to put on an act."
Shannon Finney/Getty Jerry Falwell Jr. and Becki Falwell
Becki told Vanity Fair that she had grown accustomed to her life as a stay-at-home mother of three prior to her husband's ascent, and then she struggled with the spotlight that came with his job and feelings of loneliness as her husband worked more. Around that time, she decided to get a makeover and began noticing that boys on campus were giving "me attention that I'd never gotten before," she said.
"I didn't have a college life," she told Vanity Fair, and her curiosity wound up leading to "the biggest regret I've ever had": her affair with Giancarlo Granda, then a 20-year-old pool attendant in Miami Beach.
While vacationing at the Fontainebleau hotel pool in March 2012, Granda approached the couple and ended up slipping her his number, leading to flirtatious texts with Granda, the couple told Vanity Fair.
"I had someone I could talk to," Becki said. "It's that dopamine rush. All of a sudden this young, handsome fella starts texting you and giving you attention and you're like, wow, this is kind of nice."
Granda previously told Reuters that he had an affair with Becki while Falwell Jr. watched. Both Falwell Jr. and Becki have denied his involvement and accused Granda of trying to blackmail them, which he has previously denied.
Video: Jerry Falwell Jr. contacted FBI over Liberty University criticism
Asked about the couple's recollection, Granda told the magazine that his memories were very different, but that he declined to comment further.
"I can assure you that everything will be answered in the book and Hulu documentary," Granda — who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment — reportedly texted Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman.
Back in Miami that summer, Becki said that she and Granda had sex for the first time while Falwell Jr. was looking at properties in South Florida for a business opportunity that Granda had suggested.
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As Falwell Jr.'s professional relationship with Granda continued, Becki decided to come clean to her husband that December, although the affair with Granda continued until 2014, she told Vanity Fair.
After learning about the affair, Falwell Jr. said he still went through with a business deal involving Granda, investing $1.8 million in a hostel that Granda was also a partner in. Falwell Jr. told the magazine that Granda even apologized to him about the affair.
"He said, 'I hope you're okay.' And I said, 'I'm dealing with it,'" Falwell Jr. said. "The only way I could do it was to detach. I let it go on. I'm partly to blame."
Ultimately, Becki said she decided to end their sexual relationship in 2014 after Granda became serious with a girlfriend, because she "felt guilty."
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After Becki's sexual relationship with Granda ended, he still remained part of their life due to his professional ties with Falwell Jr., the couple claimed. But as that business relationship soured, the Falwells began to worry.
"Jerry would wake up every morning and worry that my affair would come out. Both of us did. It's just horrible to have that over you," Becki told Vanity Fair.
In late August 2018 — after a lawsuit involving Falwell Jr., Becki and Granda was settled — the couple invited Granda and his family to stay at their farm, hoping it would be an opportunity to say goodbye, they said. However, Becki claimed that during that trip she was assaulted by Granda.
"I kept saying no. I didn't want to do it. But I was scared to death of him too, because he was still holding everything over me, so we had sex," she told Vanity Fair.
Granda declined to comment on the allegation when reached for comment by the magazine.
Steve Helber/AP/Shutterstock Becki Falwell and Jerry Falwell Jr.
As the relationship between the Falwells and Granda continued to deteriorate, Falwell Jr. told Vanity Fair, Granda sent him a threatening text in June 2020, saying, "revenge is coming soon…I'm taking everyone down with me with my side of the story."
Making Becki even more worried was the existence of sex tapes that she claimed to have made with Granda: "I had a big Canon camera," she told the outlet. "A couple of times I put it on the dresser and Giancarlo agreed to it."
That August, Reuters published an explosive report about Granda's account of his relationship with the couple.
The allegations, combined with an Instagram photo scandal that had already put Falwell Jr. on an "indefinite leave of absence" from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University, led to his official resignation that same month.
As for the current state of their marriage, the couple told Vanity Fair that they're thankful they've been able to heal wounds.
"We're together more than any couple you will ever meet in your life," Becki said. "He forgave me, and that's what Jesus teaches, forgiveness."