The owner of a vessel named “Yachts O’ Trouble” is apparently living up to his boat’s promise — he was busted secretly filming minors showering on board in Myrtle Beach, S.C., cops say.
Richard Hilliard Jr., 49, was arrested this week for filming three minor girls and five young women with a concealed iPad as they showered on his yacht, cops said. A chaperone on the boat was tipped off to the recordings by her daughter and faked being sick to escape from the boat with the iPad. The women told police Hilliard was armed, according to WSOC-TV in Charlotte.
Investigators also got a warrant to search Hilliard’s home in Cherryville, N.C., which is a roughly four-hour drive from Myrtle Beach. A judge issued the warrant, because video from the iPad showed another video of a babysitter that was recorded in Hilliard’s daughter’s bathroom, WSOC-TV reported.
Hilliard, a prominent member of the local community, owns a foam-molding business.
Cops seized laptops, cameras, SD cards, homemade DVD’s, VHS tapes and a USB that connected to a hidden camera in his home. Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman indicated that Hilliard may have been preying on young women for a long time.
“We could be looking at victims from the tri-county area,” Norman told the Shelby Star, referring to the area surrounding Charlotte N.C.
Hilliard invited the eight young girls, one of whom babysat for him, along with the girl’s mother to come for a trip on his boat “Yachts O’ Trouble” last weekend.
“For [my daughter] to have to see what he has videoed is sick,” the mother told WSOC-TV.
The mother pretended to be sick and acted as if she had passed out to give her and the young women an excuse to leave. They took the iPad to a police station and by 11 p.m. on Sunday, Hilliard had turned himself in.
Several of the alleged victims and their parents gathered in court for Hilliard’s two hearings this week.
"He is a dangerous man. He has done this for years. This is his first offense getting caught," one mother said Monday. “You will not get away with it again,” she said to Hilliard, who stood, shackled, wearing a green v-neck Aeropostale T-shirt.
One of the alleged victims told a judge on Wednesday that she would have never joined her friends on the boat if Hilliard had not been a “well-known community member.”
“He not only violated my trust, he has let his community down and brought shame to his family,” she added.
Hilliard is charged with sexual voyeurism and violating a place of privacy, but could face more charges in North Carolina stemming from the search of his home. The Cleveland County sheriff said it could take three days or more to log all the materials they found there.
[Photo: Myrtle Beach Jail]