FERRIER FILES: The fall of Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
On Jan. 31, Megan Barry admitted to an extramarital affair with her head of security, saying "this is not a tragedy, it is a mistake."
In the end, it looked more like Greek tragedy. Barry was a powerful figure toppled by pride and lust.
In January, the night the mayor was caught, her big secret was out of the bag. She was having an affair with her bodyguard Rob Forrest, which had been going on for almost two years.
She stood in front of the Nashville news media and said she was sorry but she did not commit a crime.
“This is a mistake, this is not a tragedy,” Barry said.
She promised total cooperation during any investigations.
“We will be totally transparent,” Barry said. "We will make everything available."
In that first news conference, she insisted any investigation would show her only mistakes were moral ones and that she broke no laws.
“No laws were broken," Barry said. "It was wrong, but you will see everything that happened was city business. Nothing happened that affected the taxpayer."
The next day District Attorney Glen Funk asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation.
By February 2, her had travel records were released. It didn't take long to figure out that the mayor was adding days to trips out of town when she was alone with Sgt. Forrest.
She would add days with no official business by spending an extra night or going a day early with Sgt. Forrest was on the clock.
During all this, Forrest was shattering every record for overtime. When he became Mayor Barry's lover, he quickly became the second highest paid officer in Metro Nashville, second only to the chief.
Police records say he had $75,000 in overtime in one year.
On Feb. 22, the TBI was looking at the same thing when they released their request for search warrants. Agents were connecting nude photos found on Sgt. Forrest's phone to trips the two were on together.
The TBI believed the nude photos were of Mayor Barry based on a black purse in the photos.
She had a strange answer to those accusations.
“I haven't seen the picture and so I don't know what they contain," Barry said. "If they are of me, they were taken without my permission."
The TBI documents also said Barry had refused to give the TBI the passcode to her phone.
On February 23, one day later, she turned over the passcode but wouldn't even consider a leave of absence much less a resignation.
“No, I have things to do, important things to do,” Barry said.
Once the TBI had her passcode, everything moved rapidly. There were secret negotiations between the DA and the mayor.
On Monday, Mayor Barry conditionally pleaded guilty and resigned on the same day. The whole event was bookended by two news conferences.
One was to save her job, and the other was to leave it.
Mayor Barry's conditional guilty plea could likely keep those nude photos out of the public eye forever. Remember, the TBI is allowed to keep its files secret.