News 12 at 11, February 14, 2008
AIKEN, S.C. -- A sex solicitation bust at Pendleton King Park and Lake Olmstead is just the beginning. A total of 16 places in Richmond County are now on investigators radar, and across the river in Aiken County, there are six more public places that you need to know about.
From parks to businesses, the six locations are between North Augusta and Aiken. And some of the places the men say they are frequenting, were news to investigators with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, and the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.
News 12 contacted the three agencies based on information we obtained and confirmed across the river in Richmond County in regards to men soliciting sex there in and around Augusta.
Now another park, and another pornographic playground for men trying to solicit sex from other men in public.
"You don't think of things like this happening in small towns and it's kind of shocking." says grandfather Guy Woodward who often brings his grandson to Odell Weeks Park to play.
But the men claim they're using the parks and other places to find and have sex with other men, some even documenting those encounters to share with others
"I wouldn't expect it in Aiken, it's really surprising. Really surprising." says father Andrew Harter who also brings his family to the Aiken park.
But Odell Weeks Park is not alone, from the South Carolina Rest Station bathroom, to the men's restrooms at Lowe's home improvement store,
then there's Mae's adult video store, the shack, even the Hitchcock woods.
Some men even offer each other advice on how to blend in. For instance, at Odell Weeks Park, they are told to park near the tennis courts. Next they are told to make it look like they are out taking a walk, or even hiking. The suggested meeting spot, the rock climbing wall, that's because it's hidden back in the woods and many people can't see you. The best time is suggested to be late at night.
"I'm concerned because of my grandson. And it's something I'll definitely be on the watch for." says Woodward.
And with one man trying to solicit in Odell Weeks Park just in the last two weeks, investigators say they will be on the lookout.
"I hope they put a stop to it, to the point where they move somewhere else or at least stop coming to public places like this where there are kids." adds Harter.
And now, investigators on both sides of the river are more determined than ever to make that happen.
Lowe's home improvement store would not give us a comment on camera and we couldn't get in touch with the owners of the shack.
As for Mae's adult video store, they deny that men were acting on those claims, even adding they have surveillance cameras in their video booth and that customers are only allowed in one at a time.