Jerry Falwell Jr., the president and chancellor of Liberty University, has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Virginia school, according to a news release Friday.
According to the statement, released by the university’s board of trustees executive committee, Falwell was asked to step aside and he agreed, The News & Advance of Lynchburg reported.
The leave of absence takes effect immediately, the news release said.
The executive committee did not provide a reason, but the request comes several days after Falwell posted — and then deleted — a photograph on Instagram with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman, The New York Times reported.
According to WSLS, the caption on the post — which has been deleted — reads, “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”
On Thursday, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., a Southern Baptist minister and former Liberty instructor, called for Falwell’s resignation, according to The Washington Post.
“Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behavior is appalling,” Walker tweeted. “I’m convinced Falwell should step down.”
On Friday, Walker tweeted that the move was the right call for the university and offered prayers for Falwell and his family.
“Liberty is such and important institution to our nation, next generation of leaders and faith,” Walker tweeted. “The Liberty family impacts the world every day for things that are good and righteous.
“I pray for Jerry Jr. and the Falwells, and I take solace in the Christian principle that forgiveness and redemption is available to all.”
Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell Sr. in 1971. Liberty has grown from a small Baptist college to an evangelical powerhouse with investments and endowments of nearly $2 billion, according to the Times.
Fallwell Jr., during an interview with Lynchburg radio station WLNI, said the woman in the Instagram photo was his “wife’s assistant,” the Post reported.
“She’s pregnant, so she couldn’t get her pants up,” Falwell Jr. said. “And I had on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn in a long time, so I couldn’t get mine zipped, either. And so I just put my belly out like hers.
“She’s a sweetheart, and I should never have put it up and embarrassed her.”
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