Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling request - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling request

Posted: Updated:
  • Mom confronts Ray McBerry over modeling requestMore>>

  • FOX 5 I-Team investigation

    I-Team Ray McBerry: The Facebook conversations

    I-Team Ray McBerry: The Facebook conversations

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:39 PM EDT2014-07-28 23:39:28 GMT
    Facebook conversation between Ray McBerry and Kayla Gooch 7/11, 8:49am ExpandShow ImagesRay McBerry Thanks for the friend request, sweet girl. Good to see you again this morning! []7/11, 10:41am ExpandShow ImagesKayla Gooch It was great to see you, too!! And you're welcome!! (: Friday[] 7/11, 4:43pm ExpandShow ImagesRay McBerry Would you please remind me the date that you are moving to Kennesaw? [] 7/11, 5:01pm ExpandShow ImagesKayla Gooch August 16th! [ ]7/11, 5:11pm ExpandShow ImagesRay M...
    Facebook conversation between Ray McBerry and Kayla Gooch 7/11, 8:49am ExpandShow ImagesRay McBerry Thanks for the friend request, sweet girl. Good to see you again this morning! []7/11, 10:41am ExpandShow ImagesKayla Gooch It was great to see you, too!! And you're welcome!! (: Friday[] 7/11, 4:43pm ExpandShow ImagesRay McBerry Would you please remind me the date that you are moving to Kennesaw? [] 7/11, 5:01pm ExpandShow ImagesKayla Gooch August 16th! [ ]7/11, 5:11pm ExpandShow ImagesRay M...
  • FOX 5 I-Team Investigation

    Ray McBerry statement to FOX 5

    Ray McBerry statement to FOX 5

    Monday, July 28 2014 1:54 PM EDT2014-07-28 17:54:24 GMT
    Statement provided to the FOX 5 I-Team:
    Statement provided to the FOX 5 I-Team:

A twice-failed candidate for Georgia governor found himself in an uncomfortable position -- face-to-face with a mom furious with what he was trying to do this month with her teenage daughter.

Legal experts say what happened does not appear to be a crime, but the incident once again raises questions about actions involving Ray McBerry.

McBerry is a former high school teacher who now owns a cable TV station in Henry County. Several years ago his teaching license was suspended after he apologized for his behavior with a 16-year-old girl. But he sees nothing wrong with what happened with 18-year-old Kayla Gooch.

Her mom sure does.

"My mom. You don't mess with my mom, ok?" says Kayla.

When Kayla got a Facebook friend request from a stranger named Tara O'Neill, the scheduling coordinator for Girls of Dixie Modeling, telling her she had a big client in Henry County looking to hire someone part-time, Malena Gooch made sure the client was real.

"I took it she would be doing some local commercials in Henry County." Malena Gooch told Fox 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis

Remember that Girls of Dixie name. Tara O'Neill.

She messaged her big client was Ray McBerry, the owner of KBN television in McDonough. Kayla went by herself to meet at his office. She says McBerry suggested a modeling shoot at High Falls Park.

"I was kind of excited, you know, because mostly I've never modeled before, said Kayla. "So I was like, oh, this is going to be fun. This is going to be so cool. But it got kind of weird when he told me I couldn't take anybody with me."

Kayla showed us her Facebook thread with McBerry. He first talks about how to get to the park:

"You could either meet me there or meet me at the office and ride down with me in the Camaro lol."

He asks for pictures of her wearing swimsuits "so I can tell how they look on you."

And he even sends her a photo of a woman in a tiny bikini because that Girls of Dixie modeling coordinator "Tara said she thought this swimsuit would be pretty on you because of your nice tan. What do you think?"

"I'd say he used his place of business and his stature to reel her in," Malena Gooch says. "To make her think that he was going to give her a job. Well, in fact all he had, all he wanted to do was get pictures of her."

The 46-year-old McBerry has faced angry parents before. In 2010, during his second failed attempt at winning the Republican nomination for Governor, a woman came forward accusing McBerry of having sex with her when she was 16 and he was a high school teacher. The Georgia Professional Standards investigative summary shows no allegations of sex at the time, but kissing and fondling. McBerry admitted only hugging... but also to giving the girl a cell phone and meeting her on a dirt road after her parents told him to stay away.

During the campaign, McBerry said "they were nothing more than family friends... people we went to church with... we were in their home... they were in our home.. there was no improper relationship between me and the young lady."

His teaching license was suspended and records show he never taught in a public school again. After the news broke, fellow gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel refused to share the stage with McBerry.

Four years later, McBerry is asking an 18-year-old girl to put on a bikini and take pictures with him at a state park. She asks if it's OK to bring someone along. Instead, he writes:

"I've never had anyone bring someone to a shoot before or be uncomfortable shooting with me."

He goes on to say, "you're a very sweet person and seem very mature."

And then...

"Quite honestly, I would rather not shoot together if you're not able to make the decision by yourself."

A spokesman for the Professional Photographers of America, the largest, oldest photographer organization in the world, says it's always a good idea to have someone else there when the model is a teenage boy or girl.

Melena: "I think he was trying to manipulate her, basically saying you're an adult now. Act like one. Don't allow your parents to make decisions for you."

But this mom made a bold decision. Kayla would meet McBerry anyway, and Mom would be there to give him the lecture of his life.

Here's what was captured on a friend's cell phone:

Melena Gooch: She's supposed to come out and lay out at High Falls for you, take pictures for you for 2 1/2-3 hours, and then what are you doing with these pictures?

Ray McBerry: I haven't planned to do anything with them.

Melena Gooch: So what's the point? Why are we here?

Ray McBerry: I don't know why we're here.

Melena Gooch: No, why are we here if there's no purpose in the pictures?

Ray McBerry: I already explained to you like I explained to her. That photography is a hobby of mine that I do when I have a day off and I asked her if she wanted to be in a photo shoot.

Melena said later, "I wanted him to know, you know what? We caught on to what you're doing. And I want you to know that you might pull this off on another child, and God I hope he doesn't. But he certainly wasn't going to get by with it with my child."

Melena Gooch: You sent her a picture of a lady in a bathing suit. A two-piece bikini. Oh, you'll look great in that with your tan. And referred to her as sweetie?

Ray McBerry: What's wrong with that?

Melena Gooch: How old are you? 46?

Ray McBerry: 46.

Melena Gooch: Oh yeah, I've already researched you. I know all about you.

Maybe not everything. Remember Tara O'Neill, the scheduling coordinator from Girls of Dixie Modeling who originally contacted Melena's daughter? Here's what she wrote Kayla on Facebook:

"Please don't think that I'm being disrespectful to your mom or anything but i never allow any of our models to take people to shoots, it just isn't professional."

But guess who created girlsofdixie.com? Ray McBerry. So we tried to find Tara O'Neill. Girls of Dixie Modeling is not incorporated... has no clients, phone number or physical address listed on the site. In fact... the only employee named is Tara.

In her complaint to McDonough police, Malena Gooch said "I'm 98 percent sure Tara O'Neill and Ray McBerry (are) the same person."

When the Fox 5 I-Team asked McBerry if he and Tara are the same person, he said no.

"So how do you know Tara O'Neill," Randy Travis asked. "She's done scheduling for our, for my shoots for I don't know, several years," McBerry said.

"Have you ever met her?"

"Yes I have," McBerry said.

"What does she look like?"

"I'm going in to do my appointment with my client," McBerry said and refused to provide any way to contact the mysterious modeling agency talent scout.

He later sent us a statement saying he has never "had any kind of immoral relationship with any client, actor or model from any of our productions."

He says models over 18 can't bring a guest because they "sometimes cause distractions and delays." And he says he suggested Kayla cancel if she had any concerns.

Mom and daughter want police to compare the Facebook IP addresses for McBerry... and the mystery woman who seeks out his young models.

 

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Good Day Atlanta

    Teaching your kids the value of money

    Teaching your kids the value of money

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:22 AM EDT2014-09-15 15:22:34 GMT
    We've all been tempted to buy that extra toy, or give those extra few dollars to our kids to buy something on impulse...but are those the best habits to pass along?
    We've all been tempted to buy that extra toy, or give those extra few dollars to our kids to buy something on impulse...but are those the best habits to pass along?
  • GA Lottery targets shadow winners

    GA Lottery targets shadow winners

    Sunday, September 14 2014 5:30 PM EDT2014-09-14 21:30:57 GMT
    The Georgia Lottery tells the Fox 5 I-Team it's launching a full-scale effort to crack down on so-called "shadow winners.
    The Georgia Lottery tells the Fox 5 I-Team it's launching a full-scale effort to crack down on so-called "shadow winners.
  • Graphic video of Forsyth Co. Courthouse shootout

    Graphic video of Forsyth Co. Courthouse shootout

    Thursday, September 11 2014 4:43 PM EDT2014-09-11 20:43:06 GMT
    FOX 5 has an extended clip of the dramatic shootout at the Forsyth County Courthouse.
    FOX 5 has an extended clip of the dramatic shootout at the Forsyth County Courthouse in June.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

Powered by WorldNow

KTTV FOX 11
1999 S. Bundy Dr.
Los Angeles CA 90025

Main: (310) 584-2000
News Tips? (310) 584-2025

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices