House Democrats refuse to support Byrd resolution to honor team - WSMV News 4

House Democrats refuse to support Byrd resolution amid sexual misconduct allegations

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State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly) State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly)

More than 20 House Democrats sent a strong message to a state lawmaker facing accusations of sexual misconduct from several decades ago by refusing to vote for one of his resolutions. 

Last month three women accused Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, of initiating sexual contact with them while playing on his high school basketball team three decades ago. 

Byrd, who was 28 years old at the time of the alleged misconduct, coached the Wayne County High School girls’ basketball team.

His accusers said they were between the ages of 15 and 16 during the time of the alleged misconduct. 

Less than a month after the accusers went public, Byrd introduced a resolution to honor a current, unrelated high school girls’ basketball team located in his district.  

House Joint Resolution 1080 honors the Summertown High School Lady Eagles for their second-place finish in the state finals 

“For him to be accused of the things he’s been accused of and then bring a recognition for a girls’ basketball team is extremely brazen,” said Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville. "It’s just unbelievable.” 

Jones acknowledged the effort was symbolic in nature as the resolution easily passed by a majority.  

She said the members choose not to vote against the resolution out of respect for the Lady Eagles and the resolution’s co-sponsor, Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma. 

“We want the girls to be recognized,” Jones said. “But we also want to say, ‘This is not right. This is not the way to handle things.’” 

Byrd has refused to resign despite the requests of Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. 

In a statement, Byrd neither affirmed nor denied any of the allegations detailed in a News 4 I-Team investigation. 

One of the accusers, Christi Rice, said Byrd kissed her on at least 10 occasions when she was 15 years old. She claimed Byrd also touched her breasts and genitals over her clothes. 

Another accuser who asked to conceal her identity said Byrd touched her breasts while they were in a hotel room for an out-of-town basketball trip. At the time, she said she was 16 years old. 

The former player said Byrd put his penis between her butt cheeks during the same incident. 

Robbie Cain, who also played for the Lady Wildcats, said Byrd asked her to feel his genitals when she was 15 years old. 

Byrd filed the resolution for introduction on April 5.  

Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, requested the measure be moved to the regular calendar. 

Shortly after that move, Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma, became a co-sponsor of the bill. 

If a bill or resolution appears on the regular calendar, lawmakers can debate and discuss the measure on the House floor before voting. 

Doss, not Byrd, presented the resolution to the House on Thursday morning.

Byrd did not respond to questions about why he did not present the resolution himself Thursday morning. 

Three Republicans also did not vote on the resolution. 

Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, and Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, did not vote for the measure. 

"I really don't recall but I think I was not at my desk at the time," said McCormick when asked why he did not vote on the resolution. 

Marsh said he had every intention of voting for the bill and was unsure why his vote didn’t go through. 

“I was there,” Marsh said in a telephone conversation. “I would have bet my life I did vote on it. I’m all for [the resolution] and I don’t have a problem with it.”  

An assistant for Daniel said the lawmaker unintentionally missed the vote when he stepped out of the House chamber to prepare for a meeting. 

A spokeswoman for Lawrence County Schools said school leaders were not even aware the resolution was being proposed.  

“We didn’t know anything about it,” said Shannon Watson, the communications director for LCS. “So really and truly we have no statement.” 

Not all Democrats sat out on the vote. Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, and Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis, voted for the resolution. 

Byrd, who represents District 71, is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

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