Ray McBerry ex-employee speaks - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Ray McBerry ex-employee speaks

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    A twice-failed candidate for Georgia governor found himself face-to-face with a mother furious over what he was trying to do this month with her teenage daughter.
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A second young woman filed a Henry County police complaint accusing former gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry of some bizarre behavior.

The Fox 5 I-Team first revealed disturbing allegations from another 18-year-old in Henry County and the emotional moment caught on video when her mother confronted McBerry about what he was doing.

The main reason -- they fear there are other girls just like them -- encouraged by a questionable on-line modeling agency to take provocative photos with a man who twice wanted to be Georgia's governor.

"He said I was mature... abnormally for my age. And that I was beyond my years," Taylor Trippe remembered.

She and Kayla Gooch made similar allegations to Henry County authorities just one month apart. Both 18-year-olds accuse Ray McBerry, the owner of KBN-TV in McDonough, of trying to trick them into posing for scantily-clad bikini pictures by using Girls of Dixie dot com and a woman they question may not even exist.

"I have never seen evidence that she's real," said Taylor.

Taylor told Henry County police she worked three months for McBerry. But the connection, she says, started when she was 16 and a woman named Tara O'Neill from Girls of Dixie Modeling began messaging her on Facebook. Messages that would go on until she graduated high school this year.

Taylor: "About two weeks after I turned 18 she messaged me talking about a job opening at KBN television in McDonough. And I went to the interview and got a job there."

The job involved part-time office work, but according to her police complaint McBerry "would try to get Ms. Trippe to go on dates with him." She said that Girls of Dixie modeling coordinator Tara O'Neill urged her to take photos with McBerry "for a portfolio so she could do a commercial" for his TV station.

All communication from Tara O'Neill done on-line. No talking over the phone or in person.

"You tried real hard to meet her, didn't you," asked Fox 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis.

"I did," said Taylor. "I asked her if she would meet me. It would make me and my boyfriend feel more comfortable if she had met me at the office, just came by one day. And she... did not like that at all."

According to the Facebook thread Taylor showed us, Tara O'Neill said that "Ray had 12 other girls wanting the job you have..." and "if you don't want to do commercials, tell Ray."

There's no phone number or physical address on the Girls of Dixie Modeling site. Only one way of contacting them: by filling out a Basic Model Profile. It asks basic questions about age, height, and weight, but also some unusual questions such as whether the model's bust is "natural or enhanced?"

So, who set up GirlsOfDixie.com? Ray McBerry.

"I believe the IP address needs to be traced to see where this is coming from because I believe that it's Ray McBerry." Taylor said.

McBerry denied to the Fox 5 I-Team he is pretending to be a female scout looking for teen models on-line. He did confirm a financial connection to GirlsOfDixie.com

McBerry: "My company does host their website, that's correct."

Travis: "And you've paid to have it renewed every year."

McBerry: "That's correct. All of my clients pay me for the websites that I host."

McBerry twice ran for the Republican nomination for Georgia governor. In 2006, he collected nearly 48,498 votes in the primary, losing to incumbent Sonny Perdue. McBerry's platform is state's rights, but he's also embraced some wild conspiracy theories, putting together a show on his KBN TV website suggesting that the Sandy Hook school massacre never happened but was secretly staged by advocates for gun control.

But it's McBerry's Facebook conversations with another 18-year-old girl that has generated the latest McBerry video, shot by an upset mother.

According to Melena Gooch's statement to police, McBerry urged 18-year-old Kayla to wear a skimpy bikini and come alone to pose for him at a nearby state park.

Instead of the daughter, he got a surprise: Mom on fire. Here's a transcript of a portion of that cell phone video confrontation:

"And I don't quite understand what your motive is here except for the fact that I find it extremely creepy, because you're meeting a young girl by herself and you want to take pictures of her in bathing suits. How old are you? 46? Oh yeah, I've already researched you. I know all about you."

Later, McBerry got a second surprise visit. The Fox 5 I-Team.

"Why did you insist on taking pictures by yourself when so many professional photographers say it's a bad idea?" asked the I-Team's Travis. "Uh, I'm sorry. I don't know what you're talking about," McBerry replied.

But eventually McBerry remembered.

"If they're over 18 they're not required to have a parent there. And quite honestly, if it's a shoot for our television station or any other shoot that I do for anyone professionally, they're not usually allowed to bring guests there."

Later McBerry wrote us that he's never "had any kind of immoral relationship with any client, actor or model from any of our products."

Taylor Trippe told police she finally quit her job after McBerry told her he was taking her to lunch, but wound up instead at his house in Monroe County where he handed her a bag of skimpy clothes.

"He tried to get me to go in there and take pictures in small bikinis, little thongs and tie-up shirts and mini skirts. And I was not happy and I was not doing it."

That same day she says she drove straight to the police department and never returned to KBN Television.

McBerry would not respond to our questions about Taylor or the fact that two young women are now making similar alarming allegations.

Taylor: "I believe it's manipulating 16-year-old girls and 18-year-old girls into... they think that this is a real thing and it's lying and it's stalking."

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