Megan Barry, a professed Catholic and the first woman to become mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, in September 2015, resigned from her post on Tuesday as part of a plea agreement for felony theft charges.
The resignation comes on the heels of Barry's admission in January that she engaged in an extramarital affair she had with the head of her security detail, Metro police Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr. She insisted at the time that she would not step down over it and that God would forgive her.
"I know that God's going to forgive me, but the citizens of Nashville don't have to," Barry a 54-year-old Democrat said of her affair. "My hope is that I can earn their forgiveness, and I can earn back their trust, and we can do the great work for this city that Nashville deserves."
A WKRN report said Barry's about-turn was part of a plea agreement in which she admitted guilt to felony theft of property over $10,000. She is expected to receive three years of unsupervised probation as part of the conditional plea agreement and must also pay $11,000 in restitution. If she follows her plea agreement for the next three years, the charges can be dismissed and expunged.
Barry, who is married to Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management professor Bruce Barry, leaves office less than a year after losing her son to a drug overdose last July.
"While my time as your mayor concludes today, my unwavering love and sincere affection for this wonderful city and its great people shall never come to an end. No one is as excited about this city, and its bright and limitless future, than I am," she said in a statement on her departure.
I am sure you are hurting right now @MayorMeganBarry. But your life is about much more than what office you hold. You are deeply loved by God and others. I’m rooting for you, that the next stage of your life is better than you could have imagined. https://t.co/giUxgo6NuG— Russell Moore (@drmoore) March 7, 2018
She further thanked her staff and thousands of supporters she says have lifted her in prayer.
"While today is primarily about the smooth transition from my administration to that of Vice Mayor Briley, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge and thank the thousands and thousands of people who have reached out to me, written me, encouraged me, comforted me, worried endlessly about me, and most importantly prayed for me during these many difficult and trying months," she said.
Among those offering words of support was Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention which has one of its three offices in Nashville. Moore, who works from both the Nashville and Washington D.C. offices of the organization, first hailed Barry's decision to step down as the "right" one.
"This is the right decision. One of the most noxious notions of our age is that private infidelity to a spouse is of no consequence to public fidelity to the people. That's bipartisan consensus now, and it's insane," Moore tweeted Tuesday.
He followed up that tweet with another on Wednesday morning telling Barry that she is loved by God and he is "rooting" for her.
"I am sure you are hurting right now @MayorMeganBarry. But your life is about much more than what office you hold. You are deeply loved by God and others. I'm rooting for you, that the next stage of your life is better than you could have imagined," he wrote.
Barry's affair with the 58-year-old Forrest, who submitted his retirement papers Jan. 17, reportedly began in the Spring or Summer of 2016.
Before she assumed office in 2015, Barry was forced to defend her Christian faith after rumors spread that she was an atheist.
"I'm a Christian. I was raised as a Catholic, but my faith, which was always very personal to me, has suddenly become a public conversation, which has made me uncomfortable," she told The Tennessean. "The values I have always brought to my public service have always been a deep reflection of what I believe as a Catholic ... My faith is something I will always take with me into the mayor's office."