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VIDEO: Jake Tapper Segment on Casada’s Support for Byrd

Here’s the Jake Tapper/Victor Blackwell CNN segment on Speaker Casada’s support for Rep. David Byrd, who sits as chair of an education subcommittee even after apologizing for sexual misconduct with girls he coached.

This story is finally getting the national attention it deserves. Please watch and share. Byrd must go. Holler at Casada and Byrd if you agree.

VIDEO: Survivor Speaks Out At Williamson Town Hall, Casada A No-Show

This morning in Williamson County at a Town Hall event Speaker Casada was billed to be attending, Casada was a no-show.

The rest of the Williamson delegation – Senator Jack Johnson, Rep. Sam Whitson, and Rep. Brandon Ogles -were all there, as were some CNN cameras, but Casada was nowhere to be found.

Had he been there he would’ve been confronted by survivor Ashley Massey of Lawrence County, who bravely spoke up anyway about Casada’s support for David Byrd, who can be heard admitting on tape to sexual abuse with his former high school basketball players.

Here’s the video:


Sam Whitson got up and left, and Brandon Ogles attempted to perpetuate the false notion that anything in the Casada video posted earlier this week was being taken “out of context”.

Please share the video on Twitter and Facebook, and if you have a problem with the way they reacted, holler at Sam Whitson HERE and Brandon Ogles HERE.

UPDATE: Rep. Byrd’s Accusers Say They Never Met With Speaker Casada

Yesterday we posted a video, picked up by the Tennessean, News Channel 5, Slate, and the Huffington Post, where former congressional candidate Justin Kanew confronted Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada about his support for Rep. David Byrd – who has admitted on tape to sexually assaulting players he coached at Wayne County High School.


Former Speaker Beth Harwell asked Byrd to step down. Speaker Casada instead ran attack ads against the victims, then promoted Byrd to chair of the education subcommittee when he was re-elected with 78% of the vote.

In the video, Kanew asks Casada if he has heard the victims’ side of the story. Casada says that he has, and that in fact he met with the victims:

“They came into my office and spoke.”

Turns out that’s news to the victims.

Christi Rice, who has been the most outspoken of the three women who have leveled the allegations at Byrd, responded to Kanew’s video on twitter saying:

Meanwhile Robbie Cain said in a message to Christi Rice obtained by The Holler that she had no idea who Casada was:

The 3rd victim has remained anonymous apart from the initial WSMV interview. Christi Rice is in contact with her and says she is “absolutely” sure she has not spoken with Speaker Casada:

The Holler has reached out to Casada’s office for comment, and so far has not heard back. We will update the story if we do.

So not only did Casada attack the victims, he also didn’t even take the time to talk to them to hear their stories- then lied about whether or not he did.

There’s nothing defensible about any of this. Since posting the original video the Holler has heard from countless women of all political stripes who have stories like this of their own.

Meanwhile a reliable source has told us they saw Channel 4’s Jeremy Finley and a crew being escorted from the building by security, after going down to Casada’s office to ask around about Byrd. And we also heard CNN is down there knocking on Byrd’s door.

If you agree we don’t need an admitted sex offender in the state legislature chairing the education subcommittee, holler at Casada and Byrd, and lend your support to Enough is Enough.

 

 

OPINION: Why She Didn’t Report

Emily Tseffos is a mom, a teacher, a volunteer and community organizer with Enough is Enough Tennessee… and a survivor. She wrote this in response to a video we posted yesterday, where Speaker Glen Casada defended his support for admitted sex offender Rep. David Byrd, who he has now made chair of an education subcommittee while attacking Byrd’s victims and questioning why they didn’t come forward sooner.

This piece, of course, is purely hypothetical, and not at all about the allegations leveled against Rep. “Coach” David Byrd by 3 of his former players.

——

Imagine this. You’re fifteen years old and live in a small town, about an hour off of Interstate 40 in southwest Tennessee. It’s literally a one-stoplight town, sprinkled with local businesses who haven’t been put out of business by the closest Walmart, about twenty minutes away.
Everyone knows everyone here – babies, weddings, death, and drama – it’s hard to sneeze without your neighbors getting word of it.
You’re a pretty good student, but the thing you look forward to most is basketball. You are GOOD. There’s talk about you playing in college, meaning you’ll get out of the town you grew up in to see more of the world than the hills and valleys you’ve memorized since you were a child.
Then one day you’re at practice and you notice something different – you catch your coach looking at you just a little longer than he probably should. You shrug it off, complete the drill, and go home. But then it happens again. And now when he’s giving you tips on your free throws he leaves a hand on your shoulder a little longer than he used to. It gives you goosebumps and you don’t move away. He’s twelve years your senior, married, with a newborn baby.
You’re probably imagining things.
Weeks later you’re at an away tournament and after you check in with your teammates your coach asks you to stop in his room to go over plays for your games tomorrow. You put on your sweats and walk to his room. You’ve got to call your mom to let her know you’ve arrived before 9:00pm because you know she’ll be going to bed after that.
You knock. He opens the door. You enter slowly, sitting on the chair near the window. He asks how you’re feeling about the game tomorrow, how your family is, if you were ready for the biology test you have in his class on Monday. “You better find some time to study,” he jokes. You laugh, a little awkwardly.
You want to talk about the plays and then go home. You’ve still got to call your mom.
“I’ve got the plays right here. Come around over by me and take a look,” he says, motioning to the bed. That bed looks big – bigger than it had when you walked in the room. You sit. Small talk continues. As he explains the second play, an up-screen for the guard that will lead to an opening at the key, he puts his hand on your knee.
Lightly. Just for a moment, but it startles you, so you look up at him. He looks at you. Just a little longer than he probably should.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about what I want. I want to see you naked,” he says, almost whispering. And he kisses you. You’re fifteen. You’ve barely kissed a boy – definitely not a man. You pull back, your mind racing. Is this happening? What do I do? Does he like me or something? He can’t! He’s my teacher, my coach – HE HAS A WIFE! I still have to call my mom.
You pull back, but he moves a little closer; his hand lingers again on your knee. “It’s okay,” he says softly, and he kisses you again. His hand moves toward your breast. Your body is still there but you feel like you’re outside of it – this can’t be happening. He’s my coach. We have a game tomorrow. He’s my coach. This can’t be happening.
It’s a tragedy that repeats over and over in your mind because while you know your life has just been changed forever, you have no idea what to do.
You go back to your room. You don’t say anything to your roommate, one of your best friends. You brush your teeth, but can’t bring yourself to look in the mirror. You get in bed and turn off the light – but you don’t sleep. What just happened between you and that grown man is running on an endless loop, and you stare at the ceiling as the hours pass.
As the season progresses, so do the advances. In the locker room, on the bus, after school. There’s even talk about going to motel nearby for some privacy. You’re fifteen. He’s twenty-eight. You want to tell someone, ANYONE – but who? If you speak up to your friends they might not believe you – and what if they tell other kids in your class? Gossip like that spreads like wildfire here. If you say something to your teachers, would they even listen?
This man is revered here. There’s no way they’d take a little girl’s word over his.
If you tell your parents… you can’t tell your parents. How could they ever forgive you?
You stay silent. You play basketball, but you don’t know how to separate what is happening off the court with his expectations on the court. It’s hard to listen to and take seriously someone for whom you’ve got no respect. Eventually it’s too much for you and whatever was happening between you ends. You’ve grown to resent this man, who he is, and what he’s made you become.
You close yourself off from friends and family, unsure of how to handle what’s happened. You’re mad, and hurt, and afraid, and confused and so you ignore it.
What happened between you is in the past and you continue to live your life, pushing those memories into the furthest part of your conscious mind so that you can grapple with the normal drama of high school without the heaviness and the loss of what happened to you.
Years pass.
You watch as this man continues to coach young girls, always wondering what might still be happening off the court but never really knowing. The high school’s gymnasium is named after him and he continues to climb in stature in the community, eventually leading to his election as a state representative. Each time you cross his path – either in person or through conversation – you become your teenaged self again. You feel nervous energy, anger, loss, grief.
But you keep silent.
But then you find out that other girls have experienced what you have. That they were fondled, groped, verbally abused, and more at the hands of a man who took advantage of little girls, preying on them over and over. And you relive it all again, but this time you feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.
How many were there? How many more lived in silence? Could I have stopped this?
And so you risk it all. You speak out over and over again, telling the truth each time. You lose friends and keep others, but most of them aren’t willing to publicly take a stand in your defense. You live in the community you grew up in, you see, and the town is taking sides. You stop getting your groceries at the store you’ve gone to for decades. You barely go to church anymore.
Your parents’ friends have all fallen away, and every time the topic is brought up they can’t help but cry. Was it worth it? Will it matter? You’ve never felt more alone than in some of these moments.
But you keep speaking and standing up, knowing that the truth needs to be shouted above all of the noise. Those in powerful positions in your community protect and defend him, not bothering to investigate any of the allegations against this man or to reach out to you directly.
It’s not so much for just you anymore, but for your community, your state.
You know that when men like the man who stole innocence from you so long ago are put in positions of power and are seemingly untouchable, it gives permission for other men to do the same to other little girls.
So you keep telling the truth in the hopes that your sacrifice gives other survivors the freedom and the courage to speak out – no matter who the abuser is.
Dedicated to survivors, especially those in rural Tennessee.

VIDEO: Kanew Confronts Casada About Promoting Admitted Sex Offender Rep. Byrd

In a 2018 report, 3 women publicly alleged Tennessee State Representative David Byrd (Wayne, Lewis, Hardin, Lawrence counties) had sexually molested them when he was their women’s basketball coach at Wayne County High School.

The report included a recording of Byrd apologizing for it, expressing remorse, and saying he had been praying for forgiveness for it every Sunday.

Most reacted with disgust. Even members of Byrd’s own Republican party, including now-Senator Marsha Blackburn and then-Speaker Beth Harwell. Harwell even asked Byrd to step down.

Byrd refused. He ran for office again in 2018, and won in a landslide with 78% of the vote.

Newly-elected Speaker Glen Casada then promptly promoted him to chair of an Education Subcommittee, of all things.

You truly cannot make this stuff up.

Since Casada’s decision, very little has been made of Byrd’s continued presence in the legislature. A group called “Enough is Enough” has done all they can, showing up at big events like Governor Lee’s swearing in to remind Lee and Casada they’re watching, and supporting one of the victims – Christi Rice – at the Women’s March. But fellow legislators have been silent, and the media has stopped covering the matter.

Nobody has pinned Casada down for his decision – until now.

Recently, former congressional candidate Justin Kanew went to a town hall in Franklin where Speaker Casada was appearing with other members of the Williamson County delegation, and confronted Casada about his decision not only to ignore Byrd’s transgressions, but to run attack ads against the victims and elevate Byrd to chair of an education subcommittee.

Here’s the 6 minute video:

In the video Casada makes it clear he doesn’t believe Byrd did it despite his obvious admission of guilt, and even goes so far as to say if HE had been raped he would’ve come forward long before now.

As if he can possibly know what it would be like to be a young teenage girl in Wayne County who is being sexually molested by her basketball coach.

The entire situation is appalling. If you agree, please SHARE this video on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, and holler at Casada and especially Byrd and tell them you want this admitted sex offender removed from our legislature.

OPINION: “That is not infanticide. I know. I went through it.”

This week, before the racist images on his yearbook page came out, Virginia’s Governor Northam’s comments about a proposed late-term abortion bill caused a stir. 

Read more

Even Radical Pro-Life Group Doesn’t Support “Unconstitutional” Heartbeat Bill

Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to perform or obtain an abortion in Tennessee after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with the only exception being a medical emergency – a bill that was already struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in Iowa.

The Bill has the support of both Governor Lee and Glen Casada, who told the Associated Press that he thinks it’s “a fight worth having in front of the Supreme Court.”

Even Tennessee Right to Life, a group that advocates against abortions, opposes the measure because they believe it would not survive legal challenges. It’s similar to one that was introduced in 2017 that the then Tennessee Attorney General also called “constitutionally suspect” which failed in large part due to lack of support from Tennessee Right to Life.

This bill – HB 0077 – would essentially make it a crime to provide OR receive an abortion after 8 weeks (when a fetal heartbeat is detectable), with the only exception exception being a medical emergency.

There’s no mention of rape, incest or mental health exceptions.

Many women do not even know they’re pregnant before 8 weeks, and abortion restrictions disproportionately affect low income women.

Close to 70,000 women a year die from unsafe abortion and numerous others suffer grave injuries, including infection, hemorrhaging, and infertility. Half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended, and, of those, half end in abortion.

This bill would do nothing to reduce unintended pregnancies, which is what abortion reduction laws should focus on. According to the CDC:

  • In 2006, 49% of pregnancies were unintended—a slight increase from 48% in 2001.

  • Among women aged 19 years and younger, more than 4 out of 5 pregnancies were unintended.

  • The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended was highest among teens younger than age 15 years, at 98%.

  • Large increases in unintended pregnancy rates were found among women with lower education, low income, and cohabiting women.

The National Institutes of Health tells us there are several approaches that have been shown to be effective in reducing unintended pregnancies:

  • Ensure birth control and family planning is freely available to adolescents and adults

  • Sex education programs, which provide information on abstinence and contraceptive use and do NOT encourage the onset of sexual intercourse nor increase the frequency of intercourse among adolescents. (In fact, quite the opposite)

  • Expand Medicaid (as most other states have) so low-income mothers can have access to family planning  and prenatal care that helps prevent birth defects.

Medicaid is pro-life. Rejecting $6 billion of our own federal dollars isn’t making mothers or children any safer. We should join the majority of the country and expand medicaid now.

Rep. Jim cooper has a bill that would give us even less excuse for not doing it.

Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) responded to the Heartbeat bill by telling The Holler: “We need to trust women. It’s a rights issue. If you don’t allow a woman to make decisions about her own body, you don’t believe in equal rights.” Johnson continued, “We do not need the government in our doctors’ offices. It’s always one of those ‘small government’ guys who comes in with a bill to regulate women’s health care.” 

 

6 in 10 women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Holler at Governor Lee or Van Huss or Casada to let them know what you think.

 

Admitted Sex Offender Rep. Byrd In Settlement Talks

(Note: Not About His Sex Crimes, Unfortunately)

In case you haven’t heard yet, Republican State Representative David Byrd – who covers Hardin, Lewis, Wayne, and some of Lawrence counties – has admitted on tape to sexual misconduct with high school girls he coached. Read more

REPORT: TN Ranks Near Bottom In Women Reps

A study from the Center For American Women shows Tennessee is well below the average for female representation in our state legislature, ranking in the bottom 10 states.

28% of state legislators nationwide are women – two-thirds of which are Democrats – but here in Tennessee that number is only 15%.

We have some work to do here.

Meanwhile of those 28%, just over 1 in 5 are women of color. Currently Juanita Charles is running to increase both totals in a special election in Clarksville, for the seat Mark Green left behind.

TN ED REPORT: Education Subcommittee A-OK With Sex Offender Chair

Rep. David Byrd, who you’ll recall admitted on tape to sexually molesting girls he coached in Wayne County and was asked to step down by his own party before running again, getting re-elected, and getting promoted by Speaker Casada to the most unthinkably insulting post of all, just chaired his first subcommittee meeting.

Thankfully, all 6 members of the committee meeting spoke out in defiance of Byrd, and he is now stepping down.

Just kidding! Nobody said anything. Instead they went around making jokes about “interesting facts”, and acted like having a pedophile in charge was just another day at the office.

Go here to read Andy Spears’ post over at the TN Education Report.

This issue isn’t going away any time soon, and neither are we. Feel free to reach out to Speaker Casada and Byrd and let them know how you feel about this insult to women and survivors and frankly everyone in our state.