Sep. 20—The allegations that Rhett Riviere had illegally recorded women staying in his rental properties were first made in 2019.
Riviere, 68, a member of a prominent Aiken Winter Colony family, has since been arrested twice and sued four times over the recordings.
Riviere's former live-in girlfriend said in Nov. 15, 2019 and Dec. 4, 2019 court documents that she found video cards Riviere had secreted away on or about Aug. 22, 2019.
"Being an avid photographer, Defendant [the former live-in girlfriend] was curious as to the contents of said cards," the live-in girlfriend said in the document. "Upon viewing a portion of the contents of the cards, it was immediately apparent to Defendant that Plaintiff [Riviere] was surreptitiously placing video cameras in bedrooms and/or bathrooms of rental properties ... and using the contents so that he could be sexually gratified."
Riviere's attorney, John W. Harte, denied in 2022 that Riviere had ever seen the recordings, much less used them for any other purpose.
On Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, the former live-in girlfriend reported and provided the cards to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Officer T.A. Moore said in a report that he responded to the Aiken Department of Public Safety lobby at approximately 6 p.m. to receive a report about possible privacy and surveillance issues.
"Upon arrival, I met with the complaint [the former live-in girlfriend], [who] stated she was concerned about privacy issues relating to rental homes her and her boyfriend [Riviere] share within city limits," Moore said.
He added he turned the case over to a Public Safety investigator for further investigation.
The former live-in girlfriend said in the 2019 court document that after leaving the evidence with the Aiken Department of Public Safety she left town, fearing for her safety, and with the understanding that she would have to return to be interviewed by law enforcement.
On Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, Aiken Department of Public Safety Director Charles Barranco sent a memorandum to Carol McElwee, Aiken Volunteer Mounted Unit president.
"Effective immediately, Rhett Riviere is prohibited to act in any capacity of the Aiken Volunteer Mounted Unit," Barranco wrote. "Once it is resolved his status will be reevaluated."
On Oct. 30, 2019, Harte would file suit on Riviere's behalf against the former live-in girlfriend, alleging that she was romantically involved with Riviere to get access to his money and possessions and that she stole his dog, sold his horse and secretly used his money.
The live-in girlfriend denied these allegations in an affidavit filed on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. In the affidavit, she would also make the first allegations regarding the video cards.
On Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, Harte filed a motion to refer the lawsuit to a special master, out of the court records and the prying eyes of the public.
At some point, the former live-in girlfriend was interviewed by the State Law Enforcement Division which suggests the matter was referred to the agency by the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
The lawsuit over the dog, the horse and money was resolved on March 12, 2020. In the settlement, it was acknowledged the former live-in girlfriend had returned the dog and agreed to leave the rental home Riviere owned that she was staying in.
In the order, Aiken County Master in Equity Anderson Griffith ordered the case sealed.
"The clerk of court shall seal this file and render it inaccessible to all persons including court personnel," Griffith said in the order. "The seal shall not be opened except upon a court order issued after notice to all parties with each party having a right to object or be heard on the question."
By that time, Riviere, the former live-in girlfriend and the company Riviere controlled that owned the rental homes had been sued by a woman who was allegedly recorded between May 17-20, 2019 at a home owned by the company controlled by Riviere that she rented on Airbnb.
Attorney John Reckenbeil filed the suit against Riviere on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020.
Harte would answer the allegations in the suit on May 6, 2020.
In the answer, Riviere said he and the company were not aware that the security camera set up to detect intrusions had not been turned off.
The suit was eventually dismissed on Oct. 11, 2021.
Harte would later confirm the suit had been settled. He would add that the settlement agreement required Riviere to exit the rental property business. And Riviere would eventually sell the home where the woman was recorded.
A second suit was filed against Riviere, the former live-in girlfriend, Airbnb (it's against their policy for guests renting via the platform to be recorded in bedrooms and bathrooms) and the company Riviere controlled that owned the home.
This woman stayed with the woman in the first lawsuit and was also allegedly recorded.
Riviere denied the allegations made in the complaint.
This case remains pending.
The woman would also later sue Riviere and another company he controlled over a property transfer that she alleged was done to avoid losing the property in the suits.
Harte denied those allegations on Riviere's behalf.
That case also remains pending.
A third suit was filed against Riviere and the company on Aug. 28, 2020 by a woman who said she was 16 years old when she was recorded at a rental property owned by Riviere's company between July 21-22, 2019.
In the complaint, the woman alleged that she and a friend planned to camp on Riviere's property but were convinced by Riviere to stay in a house he rented where they were recorded.
Like the first suit, the case was eventually dismissed and Harte would confirm it had been settled.
Riviere was arrested by State Law Enforcement Division officers at 10:49 a.m. on June 2, 2021 for the May 17 and 18, 2019 recordings of the two women. He was charged with first-offense voyeurism.
Those charges remain pending.
On Feb. 2, 2022, Wesley Few, Deborah Barbier and Ryan Beasley, the attorneys for the second woman to sue Riviere, filed a motion to unseal the lawsuit between Riviere and the former live-in girlfriend.
Harte filed a response on Feb. 11 arguing that the case should stay sealed.
The case was unsealed by Griffith on March 10.
Riviere was arrested on July 28 for recordings made between April and June 2001. He was charged with two counts of first-offense voyeurism.
The charges remain pending.