Group Asks Rep. Byrd To Resign Amid Sex Allegations

Posted at 5:37 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 19:35:03-04

A new Tennessee group took aim at a state representative who is accused by three people of sexual misconduct.

The allegations date back 30 years, from Republican State Representative David Byrd's time as a teacher and coach at Wayne County High School. The accusers claim Byrd made sexual advances on them when they were teenagers and basketball players or students.

One of the accusers, Christi Rice, said she came forward after seeing a Facebook post from the representative condemning a University of Tennessee hiring of someone connected with a sexual misconduct allegation.

"I reached out to David Byrd at the time and said, 'I can't believe you would make such a firm stand when you were directly related to a sex scandal,'" said Rice.

According to Rice, she wasn't sure when was a good time to come forward with her story because she feared ridicule or that no one would believe her.

"You can't ask someone to have sex with you and then tell them to run or tell them to do discipline or whatever on the basketball court. That was a very confusing time for a 15-year-old and he said 'Yes, I'm sorry.'"

Rice is now part of a group called Enough Is Enough. The goal of the group is to root out those in politics who are accused of sexual misconduct and keep them from having a say in state law. They plan to campaign in Byrd's 71st district, which includes Hardin, Lewis, Wayne, and part of Lawrence counties.

"This PAC will have a mission of looking at people who run for public office or who currently have a public office and are running for re-election, and if they've been accused of assaulting any woman, any child, we will look at that race and we will go after that candidate," said Democratic Representative Sherry Jones.

"It does something to the rest of your life," said Rice. "For people to think this is an easy thing to do. It's not. I really didn't know what it would do to my family. What they would go through because of me stepping out."

Representative Byrd responded to the allegations in March with the following statement:

“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.”