Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s soap opera-like affair with her former police bodyguard—marked by early-morning private cemetery trips and nude cellphone photos—on Tuesday culminated in a felony guilty plea and a resignation for the Democrat.
Barry pleaded guilty to felony theft of property over $10,000, for the time billed to the City of Nashville and that was instead spent on a personal relationship with Sgt. Rob Forrest, according to The Tennessean.
“Had this case gone to trial, witnesses are available who would testify that in March 2016 and January 2018 Megan Barry caused over 10K but less than 60K in Metro Nashville city funds to be expended unlawfully on Mr. Robert Forrest,” District Attorney Glenn Funk reportedly said in court.
Forrest pleaded guilty to the same charge on Tuesday, according to local reports.
The now-ex-mayor—who before the scandal held an astonishing 70-percent approval rating—has agreed to reimburse the city for $11,000 and serve three years of probation.
In a Tuesday morning press conference, Barry called her brief tenure an “honor and privilege.”
“While my time as your mayor concludes today, my unwavering love and sincere affection for this wonderful city and its great people shall never come to an end,” said Barry.
“No one is as excited about this city and its bright and limitless future as I am," she added. “Nashville, with its boundless energy, its infectious optimism, it has never encountered an obstacle it couldn’t overcome attitude, will in the years ahead continue its steady march toward the very top of the list of great American cities. It’s a continued climb that I will watch but I will watch as a private citizen.”
Vice Mayor David Briley will reportedly be sworn in as mayor in her stead.
Both Barry and Forrest are married, though Forrest’s wife recently filed for divorce after the scandal broke. Forrest retired in January.
Months ago, Barry publicly admitted to the extramarital affair—apologizing to her husband in the process—but has repeatedly denied that romantic encounters took place while Forrest was on-the-clock. According to an indictment, nude photos on Forrest’s phone reportedly show that the two were engaging in an affair while Forrest was on duty.
The two went on a total of 10 city-funded trips by themselves without other staff present, including conferences in Greece and Paris.
And in an odd turn, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced last month that video footage showed Barry and Forrest taking several early-morning trips to a historic graveyard, normally around 7 a.m. local time.
Barry’s spokesman, Sean Braisted, claimed after the videos surfaced that nothing inappropriate happened at the cemetery, noting that Barry “finds it to be a peaceful place to start her day.”
“Sometimes she would go for a walk, other times she would sit in the car and either reflect, make calls, catch up on emails, or report issues with vandalism in the cemetery,” Braisted said.