Newly discovered nude cell phone photos may be evidence Nashville’s mayor and her former security chief were having an affair while he was being paid to be her bodyguard, authorities say in court documents disclosed Thursday.
In filing affidavits for search warrants, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says Rob Forrest used a work phone to take two photos while on duty. Investigators say evidence points to the possibility that crimes — official misconduct and theft of property — occurred.
“(Probable cause exists to) show that on May 15, 2017 and on October 18, 2017, he used this phone to photograph a nude or partially nude female,” the documents say. “It will also show that Rob Forrest’s timecards report that he was working while these photographs were taken.”
The TBI “believes probable cause exists to show that Rob Forrest was indeed not working at the time (two photos) were taken but was rather participating in the affair with Megan Barry at these times,” the document adds.
TBI investigators say they looked at Forrest’s phone and his emails after Barry admitted publicly to the affair. Two of his emails each contained one photo that showed a partially nude or fully naked woman, court documents say. The documents do not say the woman is the mayor.
The photos were taken while Forrest and Mayor Megan Barry were in Washington on business trips. On January 31, Barry apologized at a news conference for having the affair with Forrest, who had resigned.
Barry issued a statement Thursday night after the documents were released.
“The allegations of photos taken of myself are very troubling and infuriating if true,” she said.
“While I have not seen the photos in question, if they were of me, they were taken without my knowledge or permission and a complete invasion of my privacy.”
Barry says the court documents should have been sealed.
CNN called her attorney, Jerry Martin, and the attorney for Forrest, but didn’t get immediate responses from either lawyer.
Authorities filed additional search warrant requests because they want to recover 260 deleted chats and two text messages from Forrest’s phone, the document says. They also want to see what is on her phone.
The photos were taken with the same kind of phone Forrest was issued and were close in numerical sequence to photos on his phone that include images taken on two trips with the mayor to Washington last year.
Forrest was paid overtime on each of the days the photos were taken, according to the documents.
Forrest’s overtime pay increased by 83% since Barry took office, the TBI says. The agency compared that with a colleague whose overtime increased 49%.
Investigators say they asked Martin last Thursday for Barry’s phone but he refused. The TBI went to her office Friday with a search warrant and got the phone but cannot unlock it because Barry has refused to give them her passcode, authorities say. The phone will be sent to a third party company that will try to unlock the phone.
The mayor’s statement Thursday says the phone is a personal phone and her lawyer had asked the TBI “to limit the search so as not to encroach on items irrelevant to the investigation such as communications with personal friends and family.”
The mayor says the phone seizure at her office came without notice and that she has been cooperating with the TBI.
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said Thursday his agency cannot comment.
Barry, a popular Democrat, entered office in 2015. She was a fixture in town, including at concerts and Nashville Predators hockey games. Barry impressed some residents when she spoke openly and candidly of her 22-year-old son’s apparent death from a drug overdose in July.
Barry has since faced some calls for resignation, but a number of residents remain supportive of her and believe she will continue to move the booming city forward.
The TBI investigation is one of two inquiries Barry faces.
A special seven-member council committee was formed to probe the circumstances related to travel and expense to determine whether there was improper use of tax payer dollars during the affair. The committee has subpoena power, The Tennessean reported
Neither Forrest nor Barry has been charged with a crime. Barry, who is married, has said the relationship is over and she will not resign. Forrest is also married.
“I accept full responsibility for the pain I have caused my family and his,” Barry said in a statement posted on January 31 to Nashville’s city website.
“God will forgive me, but the people of Nashville don’t have to. In the weeks and months to come, I will work hard to earn your forgiveness and earn back your trust,” the statement said.