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.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Critics of embattled state Rep. David Byrd took perhaps the boldest step yet at the Tennessee State Capitol on Thursday.

State Rep. Gloria Johnson was called by the chair to recognize someone seated in the upper chamber of the House during Thursday’s session.

A News4 I-Team investigation showed three women who said Byrd, R-Waynesboro, touched them sexually or made sexual comments to them when they were teenagers and he was their basketball coach.

Johnson recognized one of his accusers, Christie Rice, before the House.

“I would like to recognize my very courageous friend Christie Rice to the capitol today,” Johnson said.

While several lawmakers applauded, video showed that Byrd did not.

“It wasn’t to make a point to him. I have nothing to prove as far as he’s concerned,” said Rice. “It was to prove a point to other survivors that are going through this that we can face people who’ve abused us, that have not believed us, and we can move forward.”

Rice held a news conference with supporters who are calling for an end to the statute of limitation for cases of children sexually abused.

Among those at the news conference was a long-time Republican from Byrd’s district.

David Brown said the voters who overwhelmingly re-elected Byrd weren’t fully aware of the accusations.

“We’re in a very rural area down there,” said Brown. “I’m not making excuses. Most of them don’t care, didn’t know anything about it. I’m making it an issue there in the district of what he did.”

Byrd has repeatedly ignored News4’s requests for comment and has only ever said in a statement that he has done nothing wrong since being elected.

His accusers said the sexual misconduct occurred before he was a lawmaker.

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

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