Rep. Byrd not addressing specific allegations about sexual misconduct, watching former players shower


Rep. David Byrd is not addressing specific allegations about sexual misconduct, which includes watching his former players shower.

It is where they went for privacy after their games. It is also where they say their former coach, David Byrd, saw them naked.

“I just thought that was something sick,” said one former player. “I mean, why would he want to do that?”

Byrd was elected to the Tennessee House of Representative in 2014. Now, he is defying top Republicans leaders’ calls for him to step aside.

Christi Rice, Robbie Cain and a former player who asked to conceal her identity graduated from Wayne County High School in 1988. They first shared their stories with the News 4 I-Team.

The women, who all accuse Byrd of sexual misconduct while they were teens, each shared different account with the I-Team.

But all the accusers shared one specific memory: that at least once, sometime between 1985 and 1986, Byrd watched them shower at Wayne County High School in Waynesboro, Tenn.

“All of sudden you heard a noise outside the window, and we all looked, and then he takes off running," Robbie Cain said. "We were undressed, everybody, and he was looking in the window.”

“I saw the back of him and it was him," the former player said. “We all did. There was no doubt. We saw his hair, I mean, we knew it was him. There was no one else in the parking lot.”

INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: Timeline of Rep. Byrd's sexual misconduct allegations

The I-Team obtained photographs of what was then used as the ladies' locker room at WCHS.

Two windows can be seen in direct eyesight of the shower stall.

Rice said she spotted Byrd through a window now covered by an air conditioner. The other women said they saw him there, too.

“That's when I could see someone running who could fit his description,” Rice said.

Wayne County Schools has not responded to our questions about when that window was replaced or if the windows were frosted or tinted.

The I-Team caught up with Byrd before a House subcommittee Wednesday afternoon.

“Are you going to be releasing a comment on your response to these allegations?” I-Team Reporter Alanna Autler asked.

Byrd did not respond.

The I-Team also reached out to Byrd about the shower allegations and whether he asked the three women to stay quiet in the 1980s.

Before a committee hearing today, Byrd only told the I-Team he would not be resigning.

Cain claimed Byrd tried to touch her genitals and asked her to touch his genitals while in a swimming pool on an out-of-town trip. She was 15.

“Did he ever tell you to not tell anybody?” Autler asked.

“Oh yeah,” Cain said.

After one former player said Byrd inappropriately touched her when she was 16, she said the former coach pulled her out of class to talk.

“He told me not to tell anybody, that he had a wife and a new son, and that nobody would believe me I was just a kid,” she said. “And that if I ever said anything, that something like that could ruin him.”

Byrd sent out his first statement Wednesday afternoon. The statement did not address allegations raised by his three former players.“First, let me say that I have done nothing wrong or inappropriate during my term as state representative for the 71st District, which I proudly serve. I am disappointed that Speaker Harwell so quickly publicly turned her back on me but understand her political posture.

Second, these recent allegations of inappropriate contact, never before made, date back over three decades ago and are disheartening to me, and my family. One must question the motives of these three former students out of the hundreds of students I have coached.

Conduct over 30 years ago is difficult, at best, to recall, but as a Christian, I have said and I will repeat that if I hurt or emotionally upset any of my students I am truly sorry and apologize.

I do not condone sexually inappropriate behavior and hope that my behavior over the last 30 years bears that out. I ran for office, not for opportunity for myself but for the opportunity to help others and provide a service to this district. I understand that my stances on some issues in the House are controversial and I knew that I would have opponents who would seek to embellish my character.

Currently, I am working hard for the people of this district and I seek to live in a way that reflects my Biblical beliefs. One of these beliefs rests on the premise that we are all God’s children and should be free from abuse of any kind. I do not believe either of these ladies can show that they made a report to the authorities or received any subsequent mental health counseling for what they have alleged but, again, if my acts or omissions cause them distress I am truly sorry.

I have a wonderful wife and 4 children and regret my desire to represent the good people of this district may have caused them the pain these allegations have brought about.

However, I feel I am a man of integrity, faith in God and family and can continue to be the kind of representative the people of the 71st District can trust.

I will have nothing further to say on the matter, and I hope to get back to the business of representing the good people of Hardin, Wayne, Lewis and Lawrence Counties.”At least two lawmakers in House leadership said they heard “rumors” about the sexual misconduct allegations before the News4 I-Team aired our investigation.

“I heard that rumors,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) in an interview Monday night. “That was 32 years ago. Yes, I’ve heard that. If he’s done anything wrong, he’s guilty. I don’t know that. I don’t know the facts of the situation. We have to let the facts come out.”

Then, two hours before our investigation aired, Harwell asked Byrd to resign.

Majority Leader Glen Casada (R-Thompson's Station) had knowledge of misconduct allegations involving Byrd as early as January.

When Byrd discovered the I-Team started researching the story, a staffer requested to talk to us in Byrd’s office.

In addition to Byrd, Casada was also present.

“People are going to ask why leaders did not do more when they heard of the rumors. Why not?" Autler asked Rep. Casada.

“Number one, it's not our constitutional authority to investigate,” Casada said. “There are entities in the state, the media, the police, the TBI, that is their job. Legislators, that’s not our job.”

Currently, under House rules, it’s unclear if the House can investigate allegations if a complaint has not been filed or if the allegations predate a member’s term.

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