House GOP majority leader does not think Rep. David Byrd should resign

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

One of the highest-ranking Republican leaders in Tennessee said he does not think Rep. David Byrd should resign in light of sexual misconduct allegations.

A News 4 I-Team investigation detailed the allegations raised by three women who played on Byrd’s basketball team decades ago.

The accusers claim Byrd initiated sexual contact with them while they were teenagers at Wayne County High School in Waynesboro.

House Republican Majority Leader Glen Casada said he does not think Rep. Byrd, R-Waynesboro, should step away from his seat, according to a spokesman.

Casada, R-Thompson’s Station, released the following statement:The David Byrd I know is not the David Byrd being described in these allegations. However, they are serious claims and these women have a right to be heard. David Byrd also has that same right for his side of the story. I do not believe Rep. Byrd should resign from his legislative seat and voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to send him back to the General Assembly in just a few short months.Last week, Casada told the I-Team he needed to talk to Byrd before deciding whether the lawmaker should resign.

Byrd has declined multiple requests for comment.

He also canceled a sit-down interview with the I-Team just hours before it was scheduled.

In a statement, Byrd did not deny any of the allegations made by his accusers.

"I have done nothing wrong or inappropriate during my term as state representative for the 71st District, which I proudly serve," Byrd wrote in a prepared statement.READ MORE: 3 former players accuse Rep. David Byrd of sexual misconduct while they were teens | House speaker calls for lawmaker to resign | Rep. Byrd not addressing specific allegations about sexual misconduct, watching former players shower | Two contenders to challenge Rep. Byrd for House seat

INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: Timeline of Rep. Byrd's sexual misconduct allegationsByrd has been in office since 2014.Casada’s position runs counter to calls from Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, that Byrd should resign.Harwell announced she believed Byrd should resign two hours before the News 4 I-Team investigation aired last week.Byrd addressed Harwell’s request in the same statement he released last week.“I am disappointed that Speaker Harwell so quickly publicly turned her back on me but understand her political posture,” Byrd wrote.Harwell is running for governor.A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Republican Party said their organization will be following the accusations closely but stopped short of asking Byrd to resign.“Obviously, the accusations are serious,” said Candice Dawkins, a spokeswoman for TNGOP. “We don’t condone the kind of behavior that’s alleged.”Dawkins said the party does not want to get involved in the primary process, as the filing deadline for candidates is two days away.“As far as Rep. Byrd’s seat, we just hope he takes into consideration the best interests of his constituents,” Dawkins said in a phone interview.As of Monday morning, no Republicans had filed to run against Byrd in District 71.So far, two individuals in Lewis County have told the I-Team they intend to enter the race.Frankie Floied, a retired law enforcement officer and criminal investigator, said he plans to run as a Democrat.Justin Warren pulled filing paperwork as a Democrat but is considering changing his party, according to Lewis County Elections Administrator Rusty Isbell.Both still need to submit their paperwork before qualifying as candidates.Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.