In another strange revelation about Liberty University head Jerry Falwell Jr., a land deal for the university ultimately ended up giving a sweetheart deal to his personal trainer.
Reuters reported Tuesday that Falwell and his wife, Rebecca, hired a personal fitness trainer named Benjamin Crosswhite in 2011. He was a 23-year-old recent Liberty graduate. But after a series of real estate deals signed by Falwell, Crosswhite scored a "sprawling 18-acre racquet sports and fitness facility on former Liberty property." He was then given a $2 million line of credit for his business from a bank using the property as collateral.
This isn't the first strange relationship Falwell has had with a young man, however. In 2012, Falwell and his wife went to a Florida luxury resort known for topless sunbathing and a massive underground nightclub described by one travel guide as “30,000 square feet of unadulterated fun.”
Falwell met a young pool boy named Giancarlo Granda, who soon entered into a business relationship with the right-wing Christian leader.
The Falwells subsequently agreed to help Granda purchase an LGBT-friendly youth hostel in Florida that features pamphlets for strip clubs, as well as a sign that reads, “No Soliciting, Fundraising, Politics, Salesmen, Religion.”
Falwell invested a total of $1.8 million, with $800,000 in renovation costs, to help Granda build up the hostel.
The more recent case with Crosswhite differs in that Falwell used Liberty University's assets to help the man and offered a loan from the university at a 3 percent interest rate.
"In 2016, Falwell signed a real estate deal transferring the sports facility, complete with tennis courts and a fitness center owned by Liberty, to Crosswhite," Reuters reported. "Under the terms, Crosswhite wasn’t required to put any of his own money down toward the purchase price, a confidential sales contract obtained by Reuters shows."
The university then promised nearly $650,000 to rent back the tennis courts from Crosswhite for nine years. He paid upfront.
Crosswhite wouldn't comment on the business deal.
“All I will say is that my wife and I consult each other before every major business deal and we bought the complex from Liberty together,” he told Reuters in an email. “My wife and I both work around the clock to make our business succeed.”
Falwell said that he sold the sports complex because it has become a drain on Liberty's resources. It was a "gift" from a benefactor to the university, he said.
The story is still developing and Raw Story will bring more information when it is available.