Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter. He has won multiple Midsouth Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

The main accuser of Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) had a private twenty-minute conversation with Governor Bill Lee in his office Thursday afternoon.

Christi Rice said when she heard Lee say last month that all victims of sexual misconduct should be heard, she contacted the Governor’s office and asked for a one-on-one meeting.

Rice said the Governor’s office quickly responded and arranged the meeting.

Rice said the only people present were the Governor and one of his advisors.

“He (Lee) said, just tell me your story,” Rice said.

Rice said she relayed what she, and two other women, first claimed in a News4 I-Team investigation, that Byrd touched them sexually when they were 15 and 16 and he was their basketball coach.

3 former players accuse Rep. David Byrd of sexual misconduct while they were teens

The News4 I-Team then later uncovered that a fellow coach at the time said Byrd confessed that he had an inappropriate relationship with one of his students.

Friend of Rep. David Byrd claims lawmaker admitted inappropriate relationship

It was Rice who made the recording of Byrd when she confronted him by phone, in which he repeatedly apologized but has never said what he was apologizing for.

“It's one of those things I've really beaten myself up and I don't know if you believe that or not,” Byrd can he heard saying in the recording. “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.”

Rice said she offered to play the recording for the Governor, but he declined.

“He (Lee) appeared to be disgusted at times,” Rice said.

Rice said she repeatedly asked the Governor to take action.

“What step can you take to hold this man accountable? He said he really just needed to take this all in,” Rice said.

Rice said the Governor gave her no indication what step he might, or might not, take next.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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