Sexual assault survivor confronts Williamson legislators about David Byrd’s appointment to education subcommittee


Sexual assault survivor confronts Williamson legislators about David Byrd’s appointment to education subcommittee

By MATT BLOIS

A woman who said she was a sexual assault survivor confronted Republican leaders from Williamson County about the appointment of Representative David Byrd — who has been accused of a long ago sexual assault — to an education committee.

The confrontation happened at the tail end of a town hall event organized by Williamson, Inc. on Friday morning.

Earlier this week, former Democratic U.S. House of Representatives candidate Justin Kanew confronted Speaker Glen Casada, who represents the southeastern portion of Williamson County, about the same issue.

In the video posted on Twitter, Casada doubted whether Byrd had actually assaulted anyone because the allegations arose decades after the alleged assaults.

During a question and answer session at the town hall, Ashley Massey of Lawrence County told Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, Representative Sam Whitson and Representative Brandon Ogles that she was a survivor of sexual assault. Casada was absent from the event.

“Glen Casada publicly shamed and smeared rape survivors and he continues to to this, and he continues to empower representative David Byrd, who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing teenage girls,” she said. “What do you have to say about this behavior, and what do you think the effect is on survivors and women across this state?”

Moderator Dave Crouch then asked if she was from Williamson County. In her Twitter biography, Massey describes herself as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and a volunteer with a political action group that seeks to remove Byrd from Office.

“I am from Lawrence County, Tennessee and my voice matters,” she said.

Crouch apparently disagreed, taking the microphone away from her and walking to the front of the room.

“We don’t appreciate you coming in,” Crouch said. “You can take that downtown.”

“I’m standing up for survivors and my voice matters,” Massey said. “Their voice matters.”

The liberal blog TN Holler posted a video of the confrontation on Twitter.

Ogles volunteered to answer the question. He said legislators in the house are working on legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assaults. According to an investigation by WSMV, the women accusing Byrd of sexual assault say the assaults happened decades ago.

“Please don’t imply that Republican leadership in this state doesn’t take that very seriously, because we do,” he said.

Following the confrontation two volunteers from the Political Action Committee Enough is Enough Tennessee displayed a banner outside that read “Casada protects men who abuse women.”

Emily Tseffos, the treasurer for the PAC, said the group helped organize the question. She said the group hoped Casada would be at the town hall, and was disappointed that he didn’t attend. 

The PAC is planning its own town hall event on March March 9 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Brentwood Library to discuss the sexual assault allegations against Byrd.

CASADA VIDEO

The video that prompted this confrontation shows Casada speaking with former Democratic Congressional candidate Justin Kanew about David Byrd. Kanew posted the video to Twitter earlier this week.

Kanew filmed Casada while asking about Byrd’s sexual assault allegations. On the video, Kanew told Casada he doesn’t think Byrd should be on an education committee.

Casada told Kanew he can’t be sure Byrd assaulted those women. He said he questions the stories because they emerged decades after the assault.

“Why would they wait 30 years?” Casada asked in the video.

He also said in the video that if he was raped he would move away.

In an op-ed Published by The Tennesseean Casada accused Tennessean reporters of spreading fake news by reporting on the video. The Tennessean also published an op-ed from Kanew who again criticized Casada’s decision to put Byrd on an education committee.

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