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.

State Rep. David Byrd

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

Seeking to clarify a statement made by state Rep. David Byrd, the News4 I-Team was escorted out of his office by state troopers at his direction and by Speaker of the House Glenn Casada.

A state trooper told the I-Team that we were disrupting business in the office as we waited to speak with Byrd, R-Waynesboro, and that both Byrd and Casada, R-Franklin, directed we be moved out of the office but allowed stay in the building.

The News4 I-Team came to Byrd’s office after a secretly-recorded video of Casada once again ignited questions about an apology made by Byrd to one of three women who accuse him of sexual misconduct.

The group “The Tennessee Holler,” secretly recorded Casada and asked him about why he appointed Byrd to chair an education subcommittee after a News4 I-Team investigation last year found three women claiming Byrd sexually touched them when they were teenagers and he was their basketball coach at Wayne County High School.

A friend of Byrd’s, who was the boy’s basketball coach at the time of the alleged misconduct, also confirmed to the News4 I-Team that Byrd admitted to an inappropriate relationship with one of the then-teenagers.

In the “The Tennessee Holler” video, Casada responded by saying that Byrd was re-elected by his constituents after the News4 I-Team investigations.

“So we cannot have allegations convict. And that's what (The Tennessee Holler is) advocating,” Casada said.

In the video, Casada was asked how he feels that the women who claimed they were touched sexually by Byrd have been ostracized in the Waynesboro community.

“It'd be important to me if I was raped, I would move. And hell would have no fury,” Casada responds.

But Cade Cothren, Casada’s chief of staff, sent a statement from Casada that what he said was taken out of context.

“If you actually listen to the context of the conversation, it is abundantly clear what was meant by my statement: if you have been raped or sexually abused in any way, you should absolutely move to hold those involved fully accountable for their actions,” Casada said.

Also in the video, Casada is asked about the apology Byrd gave to one of the women who said he had sexually touched her as a teenager.

The woman recorded the conversation with Byrd in which he made an apology but never said what he was apologizing for.

“I wish I had a do-over because I promise you I would have corrected that and that would've never happened. But I hope you believe me when I say that it's one of those things that I think about it all the time, and I always ask forgiveness for it and I hope you forgive me. It's one of those things I've really beaten myself up and I don't know if you believe that or not. 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,” Byrd said in the recording.

Casada was asked twice in the video if he knows what exactly Byrd was apologizing for, and both times he said he does not know.

Since the News4 investigation aired last year, we have repeatedly asked Byrd to clarify what he was apologizing for.

Byrd backed out of a scheduled interview and has never directly answered the question.

Given that Casada himself did not have the answer, the News4 I-Team went to Byrd’s office, seeing that his door was open and he was sitting behind his desk.

When we walked in, the door was closed.

As we sat in the waiting room, Cothren came in and said Byrd was not available.

The I-Team pointed out that he was sitting right behind the door and we just needed the answer to what Byrd was apologizing for, but Cothren repeatedly said that Byrd was not available.

Cothren also repeatedly said that Byrd, and Casada’s office, had answered every question we had asked.

When the News4 I-Team stated that even Casada didn’t have the answer to the question, we were told not to put words in Casada’s mouth.

After Cothren left, several state troopers arrived, saying that Byrd and Casada had ordered them to escort us out of the office, but that we could stay in the building.

The News4 I-Team pointed out that there would be ample opportunities in the future for us to ask these questions to Byrd, and that we fully intend to keep asking them.

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

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