Nude Cellphone Photos, Deleted Chats May Show Evidence of Crime in Nashville Mayor’s Affair, Agents Say

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry speaks at her first “State of Metro” address as mayor at Ascend Amphitheater April 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tenn.
(Photo: Samuel M. Simpkins / The Tennessean)

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents say they have obtained nude photos of a woman taken on the phone of former police Sgt. Rob Forrest Jr., evidence they believe shows the mayor engaged in an affair with her former bodyguard while he was on duty.

The photos, which are in possession of the state’s criminal investigation agency, are referenced in an affidavit in support of a search warrant that Nashville Judge Steve Dozier signed Tuesday seeking possession of Barry’s cellphone. It was filed in court Thursday.

Earlier this month, the TBI subpoenaed Forrest’s city-issued cellphone and other evidence, which he returned before his Jan. 31 retirement. State agents also uncovered 260 deleted chats between Forrest’s phone and Barry’s phone number as well as 35 deleted call logs, according to the affidavit.

Based on the photos and deleted chats they discovered on Forrest’s phone, agents say they have probable cause to seek evidence that they believe could show a crime was committed. The affidavit cites state statues for misconduct of public officials and theft of property.

“A search of Megan Barry’s phone could reveal information that is crucial evidence for this case,” the affidavit states. “In particular, data and information that has been deleted from Sgt. Forrest’s phone may still exist on Megan Barry’s phone.”

“The deleted chats and messages between Sgt. Forrest and Megan Barry, if recovered, could provide further evidence of their activities while Sgt. Forrest reported to be on duty.”

Barry’s lawyer, Jerry Martin, said the photos were taken without her knowledge and accused the agency of breaking from its standard procedure by not filing the warrant under seal.

“It’s plain from the language of the affidavit that the identity of the person in the photographs is unclear,” Martin said in a statement. “If — and that’s a big if — there are any photos of the mayor, they were taken without her knowledge.

“The unsealing of this affidavit is deeply troubling. Typically, search warrant affidavits remain under seal during the course of the investigation,” he said. “Most investigators want to keep the details of their investigation under wraps while it’s on going. What’s happening here? This isn’t standard procedure. It’s the opposite.”

The idea that the mayor is not cooperating with the investigation is wrong, Martin said. He was in discussion with the TBI for Barry to voluntarily turn over her phone when investigators filed the affidavit for the search warrant.

The affidavit cites explicit images of a woman’s body found on Forrest’s phone that appear to be taken while on out-of-town trips with the mayor to Washington.

David Raybin, Forrest’s lawyer, said he has not seen the affidavit or warrant and cannot comment.

TBI cites explicit photos from two trips

Barry, who admitted Jan. 31 to the affair that began in spring 2016, has said that they did not conduct their relationship while Forrest was on duty.

Forrest, a security officer for Barry and Nashville’s two previous mayors, was a regular presence with Barry during out-of-town city trips. That’s a departure from the practice of past mayors, who did not have security officers accompanying them.

Barry and Forrest went on 10 city-financed trips by themselves without other mayor’s office staff present. That included conferences overseas to Paris and Greece.

The affidavit cites nude and partially nude photos of a woman on Forrest’s phone taken during two trips, both to the nation’s capital.

Barry traveled May 15 to 17 to Washington for an infrastructure conference, and Forrest was the only other city employee who went with her.

On May 15, Forrest clocked into work at 7:30 a.m. ET, clocked out at 3:30 p.m. but clocked in for overtime until 9:30 p.m., according to timecard records referenced in the TBI affidavit.

Forrest’s phone contained nude images of a woman the TBI believes to be Barry that were taken during the time that Forrest reported receiving overtime.

“This image is of a nude female lying on a bed with a black purse beside her,” the TBI affidavit states.

Subsequent images taken during a radio interview show Barry with the same purse, according to the affidavit.

Barry also took a trip Oct. 18 and 19 with Forrest for a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center and to attend another event in Washington.

Forrest clocked in at 7 a.m. Oct. 18 and clocked out at 3:30 p.m. before reporting overtime from 3:30 p.m. until 9 p.m., according to the affidavit. A photo taken at 3:39 p.m. when Forrest was on the clock and Barry’s calendar indicates she planned to be in a meeting, shows an explicit image of a woman, according to the affidavit.

Forrest earned $173,843.13 in overtime from July 2015 through Jan. 15 of this year, according to city data, more than the amount the four other police officers in Barry’s detail earned combined. Barry became Nashville’s mayor on Sept. 25, 2015.

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SOURCE: The Tennessean – Joey Garrison and Nate Rau, Dave Boucher and Anita Wadhwan