Aiken's Rhett Riviere arrested Thursday, charged with two more counts of voyeurism

·5 min read

Jul. 28—Rhett Riviere's legal troubles continue to mount.

Riviere was arrested at 9:14 a.m. Thursday by officers from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and booked into the Aiken County Detention Center around 10 a.m. on two more charges of first offense voyeurism.

First offense voyeurism is a misdemeanor, and those found guilty face up to three years in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division officer William Padgett Jr. said in warrants that between April and July 2001 Riviere knowingly recorded a male and a female without their knowledge or consent while the male and female were in the bedroom of a property in Aiken.

Deborah Barbier, an attorney representing the man and woman, said they were a couple and that they were renting a property at 785 Grace Ave., known as the Seahorse Cottage, from Riviere when they were recorded.

Aiken County Magistrate Lauren Maurice set Riviere's bond as a $5,000 personal recognizance bond on both charges. She required Riviere to give up his passport, something his attorneys, John Harte and Joe McCullough, volunteered to do. Maurice also required Riviere to obey an order of no contact with the Aiken couple and to give up any interest in rental properties, something Harte and McCullough said Riviere has already done.

Riviere, a member of a prominent Aiken Winter Colony family, was also arrested June 2, 2021, by officers from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and charged with one count of voyeurism.

For the 2021 charges, Riviere is accused of setting up security cameras inside of the bedrooms of two rental properties he leased on AirBNB he or a company controlled by him owned and recording women in the bedrooms.

AirBNB policy prohibits property owners from recording private areas of homes when the homes are occupied by renters.

Harte said Riviere had never seen the recordings he's accused of creating of the AirBNB guests, according to a recent court document filed in response to a lawsuit brought against Riviere.

Harte said Riviere was not aware two women had been recorded in a rental home on Third Avenue until he was told of the recordings by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. He said Riviere set up a security video camera to record trespassers when the home was not being rented through AirBNB. He added an ex-girlfriend of Riviere's rented the home while he was out of town.

"The security video camera was not used for the purpose of voyeurism or recording tenants," Harte says in the court document. "The only reason [a woman] and [another woman] were recorded was due to a lack of notice to Riviere when the unit was rented. The video card which was in the security video camera on May 17 and 18 has never been viewed or disseminated by Riviere."

In a warrant obtained on May 21, 2021, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Agent James C. Bushbee says the images were captured for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person. Bushbee does not indicate in the warrant if Riviere had viewed the recordings.

The two women that were recorded in the Third Avenue home and a woman that was allegedly recorded in a residence located at 785 Grace Ave. filed suits against Riviere over the recordings.

The suits of one of the women who was allegedly recorded at Third Avenue home and the woman who was allegedly recorded at the Grace Avenue residence were dismissed with prejudice — they can't be filed again — on June 16, 2021 and Oct. 11, 2021.

The suit of the third woman remains pending. She also filed a second suit against Riviere challenging a transfer of the Grace Avenue residence to a limited liability company owned by his children.

She said in the transfer suit that Riviere paid a "not insubstantial sum of money" to resolve the suits.

Harte confirmed that the suit of one of the women was settled in a motion filed to dismiss the transfer lawsuit.

He said the property transfer was done to satisfy a requirement of the confidential settlement agreement with the other woman who was recorded at the Third Avenue property.

"Pursuant to the terms of a confidential settlement of [the second woman]'s claims, Riviere was required to no longer be involved in the ownership of any rental property," Harte continues. "[The second woman] agreed that transfer of the ownership of 785 Grace [the Seahorse Cottage] to Riviere's children would be sufficient to meet her expectation for that specific settlement term. The transfer of 785 Grace coincided with carrying out the remainder of the terms of settlement. That settlement term was a material part of the settlement agreement the parties' reached."

Harte adds he will provide copies of the agreement with the third woman's attorneys, Wesley Few, Deborah Barbier and Ryan Beasley, and the judge.

The 2021 criminal case against Riviere is being prosecuted by the Second Judicial Circuit Solicitor Bill Weeks' office and is currently still pending.

South Carolina court records indicate the case is on a 180-day track.

Barbier said Thursday afternoon during the bond hearing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division had recently provided her office with electronic copies of recordings made by Riviere. She said there were thousands of images, including young girls undressing. Before the bond hearing, she asked anyone who stayed in Riviere's rental properties or on his boat and thinks they were recorded should contact her, Wes Few or Ryan Beasley.

Barbier can be contacted at 803-445-1032 or at dbb@deborahbarbier.com. Few can be contacted at 864-527-5906 or wes@wesleyfew.com. Beasley can be contacted at 864-679-7777 or rlb@ryanbeasley.com.

Riviere's next hearing on the charges filed Tuesday will be at 9 a.m. on Sept. 2. His next appearance will be at 11 a.m. on Nov. 4.