Nashville, TN – State investigators have discovered photos of a nude woman on the work cell phone of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s former head of security, and found evidence that he was on shift when the photos were taken, court documents said.
Barry, 54, admitted on Jan. 31 that she and her bodyguard, Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) Sergeant Robert Forrest Jr., 58, had an extramarital affair, which began shortly after she was elected in September of 2015.
Affidavits filed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) on Thursday indicated that there was probable cause to show that Sgt. Forrest took two photographs – one of a nude woman, and the second of a partially nude woman – while he was collecting overtime pay, NBC News reported.
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 affidavit read, according to CNN.
The affidavit references the photos in support of a search warrant seeking access to Barry’s phone, which was issued by Nashville Judge Steve Dozier on Tuesday, The Tennessean reported.
“A search of Megan Barry’s phone could reveal information that is crucial evidence for this case,” the affidavit read, according to The Tennessean. “In particular, data and information that has been deleted from Sgt. Forrest’s phone may still exist on Megan Barry’s phone.”
Armed with the warrant, investigators seized the mayor’s cell phone on Friday, but she and her attorney refused to reveal the device’s passcode, according to court documents.
The phone will be sent to a third party for analysis.
Investigators located the photos in Forrest’s department email, and said that they were taken in May and October of 2017, during separate trips that Sgt. Forrest and Barry took to Washington, DC, according to NBC News.
The TBI did not release the identity of the nude woman, but the affidavit did note that a black purse seen in one of the nude photos was the same purse that the mayor had in a different photo on Sgt. Forrest’s phone, NBC News reported.
Investigators also uncovered 260 deleted chats between the mayor and Sgt. Forrest on his cell phone, as well as 35 deleted call logs, The Tennessean reported.
“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,” the affidavit read.
Barry issued a statement on Thursday evening, after the court documents were released, and argued that they should have been sealed, according to CNN.
“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.”
After a 31-year career with the MNPD, Sgt. Forrest abruptly retired on Jan. 30, just one day before the mayor issued a public apology for their affair.
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.