For 2? years, Giancarlo Granda had been telling his family about the generosity of his business partners. The wealthy couple from out of town had taken him under their wing, he said, rewarding the Miami pool attendant’s ambition with a stake in a multimillion-dollar real estate project. Now he wanted them to meet.

In a trendy Italian restaurant inside the South Beach property where he’d become a part owner, Granda introduced his parents and sister to his unlikely benefactors: Jerry and Becki Falwell.

Over wine and pasta, the president of Liberty University and his wife praised the square-jawed 22-year-old, saying he was like an adopted son, Granda and his sister recalled.

“Oh, my God. They’re so nice,” Granda’s mother said of the Falwells afterward. “They’re so charming.”

“You see?” Granda recalled replying. “They just want to help me out.”

But the dinner in 2014 was about more than making an introduction, Granda now claims, and he was far more than the Falwells’ friend.

Instead, Granda alleges he was in the middle of a years-long relationship with the Falwells in which he would have sex with Becki while Jerry watched and sometimes recorded. Becki acknowledges the affair with Granda, but she and Jerry both deny he was involved in any way.

“I never participated in this affair as he now falsely claims,” Jerry Falwell said in a statement. “Obviously, it was a very painful period of our lives, but we reconciled and love each other.”

Granda maintains that the intimate dinner — a photo of which Granda posted on Instagram on Nov. 14, 2014 — was part of an attempt to provide a cover story, as people began questioning the ties between the middle-aged evangelical couple and the handsome young college student.

Granda’s claims about the affair, which were first reported in detail by Reuters, were made the same day Falwell stepped down last month as president of Liberty, the prominent Christian university his televangelist father founded a half-century ago in Lynchburg, Va.

And the relationship may have played a role in the political fortunes of President Trump. Falwell endorsed Trump in 2016, not long after his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, said he helped the Falwells cover up compromising photos.

In interviews with The Washington Post, Falwell said his wife had a one- or two-year affair with Granda, who then tried to blackmail them.

“He is a liar and he’s an extortionist,” Falwell, 58, said of Granda.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Becki, 53, said.

But Granda, now 29, says the relationship went on for nearly seven years. Photos, emails, text messages and other documents he provided to The Post support that timeline. In a 2019 recording, Granda and the Falwells can be heard discussing a weekend they shared at a resort seven years earlier, and their fears that the getaway would become public. And screen grabs of a FaceTime conversation in early 2019 appear to show Becki topless and drinking wine while Jerry watched her talk to Granda.
Granda said it was the Falwells who preyed on him.

“I was groomed,” he said. “And before I knew it, I was trapped.”

Granda, who now lives in the Washington area and recently earned a graduate degree from Georgetown, said his involvement with the Falwells ruined relationships with girlfriends and led him to contemplate suicide.

“I’ve been living with this hell for so long,” he said. “I just want to get out.”

'An unhealthy relationship'
Granda was flitting between pool chairs and umbrellas in March 2012 when the 20-year-old noticed something unusual, even in the anything-goes atmosphere of Miami Beach.

A bikini-clad woman in her 40s was snapping cellphone photos — not of the glamorous Fontainebleau hotel where Granda worked, but of him. A few minutes later, Becki Falwell approached and propositioned him, Granda said.
At the time, he was a struggling college student while Jerry Falwell Jr. was leading the transformation of Liberty University into a billion-dollar Goliath with more than 100,000 students, most of them online. The nearly 15,000 residential students are forbidden from drinking or having sex.

Born in Miami to middle-class parents from Mexico and Cuba, Granda grew up a few miles away from the glitzy wealth of the Fontainebleau.

“We were regular Miami kids,” said Thomas Prescott, who played baseball alongside Granda at St. Brendan High School. “We’d go to parties, play poker . . . chase girls.”

But Granda’s athletics and academics began to suffer when he became fixated on video games. The obsession got so bad that he quit the baseball team halfway through his senior year.

“He developed an unhealthy relationship, an addiction,” recalled his sister. “Our parents didn’t really know how to handle that.”

Eventually, Granda traded video games for martial arts, and began taking college courses part-time. By the time he met the Falwells, he had bulked up but described himself as lacking in confidence. Granda now believes the Falwells spotted that insecurity, and exploited it.

After his shift that day at the Fontainebleau, he received a call from a blocked number. It was Becki, inviting him to a nearby hotel, Granda said. He was initially eager, dialing his sister on the way to tell her what was going on.

“I told him it sounded kind of crazy, but he said, ‘It’ll be fun,’ ” his sister recalled.

Granda hesitated, he said, when he got to the room and saw Jerry lying on the bed, looking drunk and with his pants unzipped.

Becki poured Granda a glass of whiskey and told him to relax, he said.

“Just go for it,” Jerry said, according to Granda.

Falwell gave a completely different account of how he met Granda. It was at least a month after Becki met him, he told The Post, and it was entirely innocent.

“I just ordered quesadillas from him at the pool,” he said. “That was about it.”

Falwell later stopped answering texts, calls and emails seeking further comment.

But Granda provided The Post with an email from Jerry containing photos from a second rendezvous the day after the first one. In one photo, Granda is standing next to Becki with his arm around her. In another, Granda is standing next to Jerry.

“Hey Gian! Hope all is well with you,” the March 22, 2012, email from Jerry began. “Becki asked me to send you these pictures. Have a good night.”

In the fall of 2012, Donald Trump delivered one of the more unorthodox convocation speeches Liberty University had ever seen. After accepting an honorary degree from Falwell, Trump advised the thousands of evangelical students in attendance to sign prenuptial agreements and always “get even.”

Sitting in the front row next to the Falwell children, Granda was shocked — less by the speech than by the crowd’s adulation for his hosts.

By then, Granda said, his relationship with the Falwells was in its sixth month. As the Liberty University president and his wife entered the auditorium, students broke into rapturous applause.

The pressure of maintaining this double life would eventually overwhelm Granda as a lawsuit stemming from a real estate deal with the Falwells threatened to reveal their relationship. According to Cohen, that same lawsuit would play a part in powering Trump to the presidency.

Cohen claimed he helped bury personal photographs for Jerry Falwell Jr. before the evangelical leader backed Trump

The ill-fated deal had begun five months earlier, during a weekend Granda spent with the Falwells in New York City. The former video game addict pitched Jerry on investing in a website to help people recover from the affliction, Granda recalled. But Falwell — who’d long been a real estate developer — said he had a better idea. If Granda found a good property to buy in Miami Beach, Falwell would give him a 25 percent ownership.

Granda turned to someone he knew from high school, Jesus Fernandez Jr., whose father had experience in local real estate.

The Fernandezes helped steer the Falwells to a South Beach building that contained a youth hostel, a liquor store and the Italian restaurant. But Granda said his friend asked him repeatedly about his relationship with the Falwells.

“He kept saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” Granda recalled. “He suspected something.”

Efforts to reach Jesus Fernandez Sr. were unsuccessful, and his son declined to answer questions about their business relationship with Granda and the Falwells.

The deal was completed in early 2013 for $4.65 million, real estate and court records show, with the Falwells loaning $1 million to a newly created limited liability corporation, in which Granda was a part owner with Becki and the Falwells’ elder son, Jerry “Trey” Falwell III.
For two years, Granda said he managed the hostel while occasionally meeting the Falwells in Miami Beach or at their Virginia farm.