Nashville, TN – Nashville Mayor Megan Barry admitted on Wednesday that she had an extramarital affair with the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) sergeant who was in charge of her personal security detail.
Barry confirmed that her affair with 58-year-old MNPD Sergeant Robert Forrest Jr. began shortly after she was elected in September of 2015.
"We had an affair, and it was wrong, and we shouldn't have done it," Barry told The Tennessean. "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.”
Sgt. Forrest abruptly retired on Tuesday, after a 31-year career with the department.
According to WTVF, Barry’s disclosure came just days after the news outlet began asking questions about her use of taxpayer funds. Although Sgt. Forrest had provided security for former mayors Bill Purcell and Karl Dean, he had considerably more overtime claims after Barry became the city’s mayor.
Department records indicated that Sgt. Forrest averaged $34,000 in overtime pay during each of the last three years that Dean was in office. His overtime wages increased to just under $60,000 once Barry got into office, and he made a whopping $75,000 in overtime alone during fiscal year 2017, WTVF reported.
According to The Tennessean, Sgt. Forrest frequently accompanied Barry on city business trips as part of his regular duties. But on nine occasions, no other members of the office traveled with Barry and Sgt. Forrest, to include a trip the pair made to Greece in September of 2017.
Barry denied having misused taxpayer funds, and said that she does not believe her conduct violated any laws or guidelines.
“Those trips were all business related, and those trips he traveled with me as my detail, which is standard policy with the police department to have detail with me wherever I am,” she told The Tennessean.
"I'm very embarrassed, and I'm deeply ashamed, and I'm very sorry," Barry told WTVF. "The affair was between two middle-aged consenting adults, and it was a mistake to do this. And I am deeply sorry."
She said she also hopes to regain the trust of the city she was elected to serve.
"I know that God's going to forgive me, but the citizens of Nashville don't have to," she told The Tennessean. "My hope is that I can earn their forgiveness, and I can earn back their trust, and we can do the great work for this city that Nashville deserves."
"This is a bad day, and there's going to be more bad days, but this is not my worst day," the mayor continued. "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."
Sgt. Forrest, who has been married for 28 years, announced his retirement on Jan. 17 with little explanation, The Tennessean reported.
"I have had an outstanding career and have enjoyed coming to work each day," he said in a letter to his supervisor. "I plan to make the transition as soon as possible."
"From the first day he collected me to take me to the swearing in to the many events and functions I have participated in since, his deep knowledge of Nashville has been essential to my overall success," Barry wrote in a Jan. 15, 2016, letter to Sgt. Forrest's supervisor.
She said she and Sgt. Forrest are no longer in a relationship.
“I accept full responsibility for the pain I have caused my family and his,” Barry said on Wednesday.