Nashville Mayor Megan Barry admitted to an affair with a police sergeant who had been assigned to protect her.
“Today, I have acknowledged publicly that I have engaged in an extramarital affair with the former head of my security detail,” she said in a prepared statement. “I accept full responsibility for the pain I have caused my family and his. I am so sorry to my husband Bruce, who has stood by me in my darkest moments and remains committed to our marriage, just as I am committed to repairing the damage I have done.”
The 54-year-old Democrat also apologized to the citizens of Nashville, promising to “work hard to earn your forgiveness and earn back your trust.”
In an interview with The Tennessean on Wednesday afternoon, Barry identified her paramour as 58-year-old Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr., who is also married. She apologized “for the harm I’ve done to the people I love and the people who counted on me.”
The affair between began in the spring or summer of 2016, shortly after she entered office the previous fall, reports The Tennessean.
“We had an affair, and it was wrong, and we shouldn’t have done it,” Barry said. “He was part of my security detail, and as part of that responsibility, I should have gone to the [police] chief, and I should have said what was going on, and that was a mistake.”
She continued, “People that we admire can also be flawed humans, and I’m flawed, and I’m incredibly sad and sorry for the disappointment that I will see in those little girls’ faces. But, what I hope they can also see is that people make mistakes, and you move on from those.”
Forrest, a 32-year veteran of the police force, according to WKRN, submitted his retirement papers Jan. 17 and served his final day on Wednesday. The mayor said she has no plans to step down.
Barry explained herself to reporters for about 15 minutes Wednesday night at a press conference, telling them she’s embarrassed and sorry.
Though she declined to say when the affair ended, Barry stated it was “over.”
Forrest also apologized in a statement provided by his lawyer, David Raybin, to The Tennessean.
“I deeply regret that my professional relationship with Mayor Barry turned into a personal one,” the statement read. “This has caused great pain for my wife, my family, friends and colleagues. At no time did I ever violate my oath as a police officer or engage in actions that would abuse the public trust.”
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The outlet also reports Forrest accompanied Barry on trips to Paris, Athens, Washington, New York, Denver, Oakland and other cities over the past year. He racked up around $33,000 in travel expenses. He also earned more than $50,000 in overtime in 2017 on top of an $84,500 salary.
During the press conference, Barry said “every single” trip was business-related and that Forrest’s overtime pay matches her “aggressive schedule.”
Metro Councilman Steve Glover said, “If the Metro Budget and Finance Committee needs to look into this, we can look into it and find out if any money was spent properly or improperly.”
“This is a bad day, and there’s going to be more bad days, but this is not my worst day. And I know the difference between a mistake — which is what I made and I fully own — and a tragedy. And this is not a tragedy. And I want to regain the trust of Nashvillians. And I will continue to serve,” she said.
“God will forgive me,” she also tweeted and stated. “But the people of Nashville don’t have to.”