Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Governor Bill Lee agrees that Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, should be removed from his leadership position as chairman of an education subcommittee.

State Rep. David Byrd

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

According to spokeswoman Laine Arnold, Lee believes Speaker Glenn Casada made the right decision to remove Byrd from the chairmanship.

Casada removed embattled Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, from chairman of an education subcommittee, citing input from members and continuing orderly operations of the House.

It follows protests and outrage by Byrd's critics, following a series of News4 I-Team investigations that first exposed how three women say Byrd touched them sexually when they were teenagers and he was their basketball coach.

“Following discussions with members of the House and after careful consideration, I have formally asked Representative Byrd to step down from his position as Chairman of the House Education Administration Subcommittee. Representative Byrd agrees that this is the best path forward in ensuring the House of Representatives can focus on the issues that truly matter to all Tennesseans. This decision is based on input from members and to continue the orderly operations of the House. I thank Representative Byrd for agreeing to serve in this position, and I am confident this body will be even stronger moving forward," said Casada in a statement.

The move comes two weeks after one of Byrd's accusers, Christi Rice, had a one-on-one meeting with Gov. Bill Lee.

State Rep. David Byrd

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

Rice said she relayed to the governor 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.

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.

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.

The News4 I-Team went by Byrd's office to get a comment, but his door was locked.

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

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