What’s the matter with Georgia? Two long-shot candidates in the state’s governor’s race were suspended as school-teachers after allegations of inappropriate conduct with female high-school students.
One of those, Republican Ray McBerry, leads a Georgia secessionist group and is hovering around 2 percent in GOP primary polls. McBerry already last weekend issued a hilarious pre-emptive denial of those charges — as well as several others. The other, Democrat Carl Camon, is the mayor of Ray City, and polls around 2 percent in the Democratic primary.
A 2004 case summary from the state’s Professional Standards Commission, obtained yesterday by TPMmuckraker, alleges that McBerry “maintained an inappropriate relationship with a student and that he deliberately misrepresented the facts of the case in his first response to the school system’s investigation.”
A girl to whom McBerry taught Sunday School had told investigators that she and McBerry, who also taught high school in Henry County outside Atlanta, had struck up a relationship, and that she had developed “romantic” feelings for him. She said that he had “kissed her and had fondled her breasts,” and that he had given her a cellphone so she could call him.
The girl’s parents had subsequently tried to have McBerry arrested, and a judge warned him not to have any contact with the girl for six months. But McBerry was seen again meeting with the girl, though they were in separate cars. McBerry admits that when questioned about this by school administrators, he deliberately lied about the meeting, out of “panic.”
McBerry denied to investigators that he had acted in an in appropriate way with the girl, suggesting he was acting as a counselor and mentor. In the end, McBerry’s teaching certificate was suspended for a week. He had resigned from the high school he taught at when the allegations were first brought.
Gary Walker, of the Professional Standards Commission, told TPMmuckraker he did not know the reason for the relatively light punishment, but said that it would likely have been administered with McBerry’s agreement.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution first reported on the episode last night.
And it obtained a similar case summary, from 2009, for Camon, a former teacher at Valdosta High School, who was first accused in 2007 by numerous female students of making a slew of inappropriate comments. According to the summary:
• One student alleged that Camon “told her he wanted to take her home and ‘beat it up’ (i.e. have sex).”
• Another student reported that “when she told the educator that his girth was getting bigger, the educator responded that something else was getting bigger too.”
• Another “recalled that the educator had asked her if she was a virgin, and that the educator had often expressed displeasure that she had boyfriends.”
• Another “reported that she had witnessed the educator tell a female student that he would take her home and give her a whipping.”
• And several students said Camon told them that he could see their breasts, or up their skirts.
Camon denied to investigators that he had made such comments, saying that he had only told students to “correct your dress.”
Camon quit rather than agree to the suspension. “I was not going to serve a single day, a single hour, for something I didn’t do,” he told the AJC.
The frontrunners in the race are GOPer John Oxendine, who is the state’s insurance commissioner, and Democrat Roy Barnes, a former governor.