The father of Disney star Peyton Clark and influencer Acacia Kersey has been accused of pressuring teen girls as young as 14 into taking nude photos, then selling the shots without their permission on suggestive Instagram accounts.
Rich Clark, a 52-year-old photographer who runs a children’s modeling business, allegedly ‘manipulated’ a number of his underage clients to take provocative photos and sometimes sold them online for $2.58, some of the former clients alleged on social media and shared with The Daily Beast.
The father-of-four still runs his business in Los Angeles, touting 27 years of experience, and has an online portfolio consisting of numerous pictures of girls and young women, multiple in suggestive poses.
One of the first to go public with her accusations was Brittni Kristine, a cosmetician who is now 26 but dated Clark’s son Payton when she was a teenager in 2013. She shared a number of her text exchanges with Clark from that year in a TikTok video.
In one exchange, he says, “I love 14-year-olds as you know,” to which she replied, “You’re not supposed to admit that.’ Clark texted back, “No, I’m not supposed to act on it. I can think it and want it all I want.”
Rich Clark (right), father of Disney star Peyton Clark (left) and influencer Acacia Kersey, has been accused of pressuring teen girls into taking nude photos
Former clients have spoken up about how he allegedly texted them explicit messages and, in some cases, sold their photos online without their consent. Above is a text exchange shared online by Brittni Kristine, one of the first to go public with her accusations
Kristine dated Clark’s son Payton when she was a teenager in 2013 and said he constantly sent her messages like the one above
Above, he talked to Kristine about a teenaged girl he was working with
After Kristine’s TikTok, Irene Kaia, now 23, shared a video on YouTube sharing her alleged experience with Clark when she was 15 and 16. She described how she moved to Los Angeles after her father died and, as an aspiring actress, hired Clark to take her photos.
She grew close with him and eventually told him about her father, which, she said, he ultimately used against her.
‘He told me that he’d be my surrogate father and watch over me and just treat me like I was his daughter,’ she said. ‘So at the time I was 16, grieving over my dad, that meant a lot to me. So, therefore, I put my trust in him and everything he told me to do.’
She continued, ‘The more we shot, the more he would ask for unprofessional poses and sexual poses … and every time I would question him, he would manipulate me, but I didn’t realize that at the time. He would say to trust him, to trust your surrogate father, in that he would never put me in harm’s way. So I did, so I trusted him.’
Clark’s son Peyton, 27, starred on the Disney Channel series I Didn’t Do It in 2014 and his daughter Acacia Kersey, 24, amassed millions of followers on social media, starting on Tumblr before moving to YouTube, Instagram and now the artist-centric app Patreon.
Kristine’s account inspired Irene Kaia to go public with her story about how she was allegedly ‘manipulated’ by Clark
He acted like a father figure and allegedly pressured her into taking nude and provocative photos that he sold on a mature Instagram account
In addition to Kaia and Kristine, several other models who worked with Clark spoke with The Daily Beast, on the condition of anonymity, and shared that working with him appealed to his clients because of the success of his children.
But all have shared similar experiences of Clark telling them that ‘sex sells,’ pushing them to take nude photos and texting them explicit messages.
Clark declined numerous email requests for comment from The Daily Beast, which noted that his Facebook page and website were deactivated hours after they reached out.
Clark’s ex-wife Melissa also declined to comment by phone when reached by The Daily Beast and Peyton Clark and Acacia Kersey did not return repeated requests for comment from the news outlet.
For Kristine, Clark’s alleged abuse began when she was dating Peyton around 18 and immediately became part of his family, she said. She described a road trip the three took in the infancy of their relationship, during which Clark offered to shoot some photos of her and Peyton.
“We had kind of like some couple shots,” she told the Daily Beast. “[Clark] did kind of encourage more like romantic shots—I think mine and Peyton’s first kiss was on camera—I’m pretty sure it was directed, which was a little bit strange, but we all kind of bonded over the trip.”
That same trip, Clark asked Kristine if she would be comfortable posing nude for him. She said she shied away from the idea and told him she used to self-harm and didn’t want to show her scars. Kristine said that Clark made her feel comfortable by saying he wouldn’t judge her, before claiming that he was asexual and she didn’t need to worry about stripping in front of him.
Above is a text exchange Kristine and Clark had after she told Meslissa what had happened. Kristine said that Melissa was ‘justifiably horrified’ by Clark’s actions and kicked Clark out of the house. The two divorced later that year
The father-of-four still runs his business in Los Angeles, touting 27 years of experience, and has an online portfolio consisting of numerous pictures of girls and young women, multiple in suggestive poses
“Obviously, now that I’m older and wiser, it’s a massive red flag. It shouldn’t have even been mentioned at all if he was professional. But at the time, it [made] me feel more comfortable in his presence,’ she told the Daily Beast.
As she and Peyton continued dating, Kristine says she was constantly at the Clarks’ family home in Los Angeles and welcomed by their family.
She told the news outlet, “It’s kind of like the whole family was love-bombing me,” she says. “Acacia was my best friend; she felt like a sister to me. Peyton and I were sharing a room. Acacia and I would get into Melissa’s bed in the morning and just all chat together. We were very much like family. They were my only friends and my only family.”
But Clark continued encroaching on her, she said, having her pose nude for photos and sending her a number of explicit texts. “It was interesting, the dynamic between me and him, because it was like I was his assistant, I was his love interest, and I was his daughter,” she added.
The Daily Beast noted that they confirmed the phone number Kristine texted belongs to a number associated with Clark.
In another TikTok video, Kristine shows text exchanges she and Clark allegedly shared, including one in which he sends her a number of her photos and calls her ‘hot,’ which Kristine said was common.
In another exchange, Kristine says that she’s stressed out and Rich says that she needs is ‘endless sex with an older man.’ And in another, he fawned over pictures of another girl he was working with, who was around 15 or 16, and texted to Kristine, “She kept coming up to look at pics and pushing her boobs against me. Ughhh.”
Kristine added that she told the young girl’s parents about it, but did not elaborate on how or if the issue was resolved.
Clark’s son Peyton, 27, starred on the Disney Channel series I Didn’t Do It in 2014
At the end of the video, Kristine says, ‘I can’t actually show a lot of the actually explicit photos that he took, but there are gross photos of me and his actual son. So dude’s a creep and I’m glad that chapter’s closed.’
Eventually, Clark asked Kristine to be his ‘mistress,’ despite still being in a relationship with his son. “I told Peyton, I was like, ‘I don’t want to make a big deal out of this because it would make my life very uncomfortable, considering I live with you, but like do you want to handle it somehow, do you want to go talk to your dad,’” Kristine recalled to The Daily Beast.
Kristine claimed that Peyton said that this wasn’t the first time a situation like that had happened. The two broke up in 2014 and Kristine told the rest of Clark’s family about the messages.
Kristine said that Melissa was ‘justifiably horrified’ and kicked Clark out of the house. The two divorced later that year.
After Kristine told Clark’s wife, he texted her ‘Nice work. Watch your back,’ to which she replied, ‘Threats Rich? Police will love this’ and he replied back, ‘No problem.’
Records from Los Angeles Superior Court obtained by The Daily Beast show Melissa Dawson-Clark filed for divorce in May 2014, citing ‘irreconcilable differences that no amount of counseling could fix.’ The divorce was finalized that December.
The family was supportive of Krsitine months after she exposed Clark to them, but eventually kicked her out and distanced themselves when she began talking to other families and girls who worked with Clark.
She said it was obvious that they didn’t want the family’s reputation damaged, adding, ‘their reputation really doesn’t hold a candle to these girls’ safety.’
As this was happening, Kaia said in her YouTube video, she was going through her own battle to escape Clark’s grasp. She and Kristine both learned that the suggestive photos Clark took wound up on mature Instagram accounts and Kaia said she has documentation that her explicit photos were being sold online for as little as $2.58 for a 4×6 print.
Clark’s daughter Acacia Kersey, 24, amassed millions of followers on social media, starting on Tumblr before moving to YouTube, Instagram and now the artist-centric app Patreon.
Kaia, now 23, described joining Clark’s modeling club after she moved with her mother to the Los Angeles area from South Carolina following her father’s death. But by her second photoshoot, he began pushing her to take more suggestive photos and telling her she needed to show up without her mother.
She said, “He would start off with little things, and then gradually move toward more provocative images. He wouldn’t just be like, ‘Oh, do a pose,’ he would be like, ‘Lower your shirt a little, just above the nipple. Take your bra off. I can help you take your bra off.’ He would be very specific and detailed about what he wanted.”
She added, “He was very forward and pushy and creepy. He’s very odd… There was a time when we were doing a shoot and I was changing in the back of my car and I looked over and he jokingly stopped and took a picture of me while I was changing.”
“I don’t know why he feels the need to photograph 16-year-olds in lingerie,’ Kaia continued. ‘If you didn’t have a strong backbone, he would definitely try and pressure you into doing things that you probably weren’t comfortable with.”
An anonymous former client told the Daily Beast that Clark would text her periodically, once saying she had a “porn star body” and had mentioned she would be even “hotter” if she lost five pounds. She says she never worked with Clark again because she was so “creeped out” by his comments.
Kaia said her relationship with Clark ended after she found her photos online for sale and confronted Clark about it. “I came to Rich hysterically begging him to take them down,” she said, recalling how her high school classmates found the pictures online and bullied her over it.
Kaia alleged that Clark lashed out at her and told her to never contact him again. However, another one of Clark’s clients shared what he was doing in an Instagram post.
Kaia said that Clark thought it was her doing and texted her out of the blue to call her a “traitorous little cunt.”
At this point, Kaia went to the police with all of Clark’s photos of her stored on a hard drive. She said that she sought to press charges against Clark and they launched an investigation.
Police allegedly went to Clark’s house to ask if he knew her and he denied that they were ever in touch, Kaia said.
She said, “I went back to the police station and I cried my eyes out. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t help me. The evidence was right there. It was not only me, other girls came forward too. We had an army of girls with evidence.’
Kaia added, “And if that wasn’t bad enough, they told me that my photos of me, as a 16-year-old nude in sexual positions, was not child pornography because I was not using a vibrator.’
The Daily Beast confirmed that the Simi Valley Police Department opened an investigation into Kaia’s claims in 2017, but could not release details of the case because it involves a juvenile.
After seeing Kristine’s TikTok video, Kaia said that she has hope that more girls and young women will come forward about Clark that she doesn’t alone in this.
She said, “I think it’s time that I speak up about this. He’s still in the industry. He’s still working with children. I feel like he needs to be stopped. He shouldn’t be allowed around children.”