Rep. David Byrd accused of sexual misconduct; Harwell says he should resign

State Rep. David  Byrd has been accused by three women of having inappropriate sexual contact with them while he was a high school basketball coach and they were teenagers, according to WSMV. House Speaker Beth Harwell promptly called for the Waynesboro Republican to resign from his House seat after being provided a secretly-recorded tape of Byrd apologizing to one of the women.

Since she was a 15-year-old girl on the court, Christi Rice has lived with a secret.

“He was like, ‘You owe me, you owe me, I been thinking about what I want, I want to see you naked,” Rice said.

That secret concerned her then-28-year-old basketball coach at Wayne County High School, who went on to become a state representative. Now, two other players from the same school and same class say they’ve kept secrets about Byrd, too.

“It’s an embarrassing part of my past I wish to forget,” said Robbie Cain, who graduated in 1988.

While Byrd isn’t talking, these three women from the class of 1988 are speaking. Prompted by the “Me Too” movement, three former teammates are going public with what they say they’ve only told friends and loved ones, detailing what they say was sexual misconduct at the hands of their former coach.

For more than 30 years, they knew it was their word against his until last month when Rice decided she’d had enough. Not only did Rice call her former coach, she secretly recorded the conversation.

“I can promise you one thing, I have been so sorry for that,” says Byrd, who identified himself at the beginning of the recording. “I’ve lived with that and you don’t know how hard it has been for me.”

…in the recorded call, Byrd denies anything happened with other students.

Even with Rice, Byrd never explicitly details what he did to her. But he does profusely apologize.

“I wish I had a do-over because I promise you I would have corrected that and that would’ve never happened,” Byrd said. “But I hope you believe me when I say that it’s one of those things that I think about it all the time, and I always ask forgiveness for it and I hope you forgive me.”

“It’s one of those things I’ve really beaten myself up and I don’t know if you believe that or not,” Byrd continued. “But I do. All the time. There hasn’t been a Sunday that’s gone by when I’m doing my communion and everything and I’m asking forgiveness for sins, my sins, that’s one of the things that I do.”

Byrd agreed to do an interview with the I-Team on Monday. But when he backed out on Sunday night, the I-Team tracked him down at the state capitol.

“Representative, did you initiate inappropriate sexual contact with your former teenage players?” Autler asked.

Byrd walked away from the I-Team without responding.

In 2016, Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) was expelled from the House through a floor for sexual misconduct while in office. In 2016, Rep. Mark Lovell (R-Eads) resigned his seat after an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Note: This updates and replaces earlier post.

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