HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It's been eight months since Horry County leaders passed new adult business laws, but when WMBF News did a recent investigation inside one club - the news crew found much more than just nudity.
For the past few weeks, a handful of undercover visits exposed the illegal activity found inside the doors of Airport XXXpress Video, the adult themed video store along the 17 Bypass.
The main area is peppered with adult-oriented content and DVDs, but there are more than computers in the video-viewing rooms located in the back of the building.
In the back rooms, computers, paper towels and a waste basket were found.
On multiple occasions, the news crew also found invitations.
On two occasions, an undercover photographer said a man in his viewing room, reached to grab his genitals.
We showed the video and audio recordings of these incidents to Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson.
"At that point, [the video shows], there's no innuendo anymore, that's pretty aggressive and certainly there could be some charges," Richardson said of the video. He said the observation suggests an even greater case toward a criminal violation.
Eventually, it happened. Our undercover photographer witnessed two people involved in a sex act: the illegal activity of two people meeting in a public place for the purpose of having lewd conduct, sex of any nature. Richardson confirmed the act could "very easily be a criminal violation."
"I think for the police, they'd be very interested in having this video," he added. "Any contact like that would be considered lewd and lascivious. Certainly assignation would apply, and certainly the new county ordinance would apply, as they would for strip clubs," Richardson acknowledged.
Richardson said the case could result in a closure, similar to what happened to Celebrations in Little River last summer, when our undercover photographer also caught sex acts inside. Click here, for the full investigation.
"If this is going on, regardless of what happens with criminal charges, we can still move forward in a civil process and close the building down, or at least move in front of a judge to have the building closed down for nuisance laws," Richardson said.
Kelvin Lewis, the owner of Airport XXXpress Video, agreed to talk with WMBF News Anchor Michael Maely about what our undercover photographer saw.
"I haven't heard anything about any of that going on," denied Lewis.
Maely asked Lewis the following questions:
Maely: "Is it concerning to you, if we're telling you that our employee went in there and witnessed two people engaged in a sex act, or that that employee was touched while they were watching a video?"
Lewis: "Again, I'm not aware of that."
Maely asked again if the observation concerned Lewis.
Lewis: "Yeah, it's alarming, and it's against our policy for anything like that to come up here."
Maely: "So in nine years, have you ever had to ask somebody to leave for sex or anything like that?"
Lewis: "Not off the top of my head that I can remember. Like I said, we don't normally have any kind of issues here. I'm sure there's been something in the past where we've had to ask someone to leave, but off the top of my head I don't remember any."
As far as the employees, Lewis said he wasn't aware of the illegal activity occurring inside the doors of Airport XXXpress Video.
"We rent a room on the internet, we have no control over it, I guess like a motel room - clerk doesn't have any control over what goes on in that room," Lewis explained of Airport XXXpress Video services.
Richardson says motels are different.
"A video store, strip club, [they] don't carry the same standard of privacy that a hotel room or a house would," Richardson said.
Maely asked Richardson: "When you see or hear the audio clips, do you feel there are laws now, that could help you combat this?"
"I'd like for police agencies to go in and do an investigation," Richardson responded. "Certainly, I leave after watching, not necessarily seeing, but hearing what witnesses would say and hearing the innuendo -- it's clear and convincing to me, that people are meeting up to have lewd and lascivious conduct in a public place, which is assignation."
Horry County Police originally referred us to the Solicitor's Office when we had questions about the potential violations.
An Horry County spokesperson declined to talk about the adult entertainment ordinance, as it might pertain to what we saw, based on pending litigation involving the law.
Horry County Councilman Al Allen voted in favor of regulating Horry County adult businesses. He had this to say about our investigation:
"No one, including myself, likes having government pass additional laws or ordinances. I believe in the abundance of freedoms that we all enjoy, but there are times to where our elected leaders are faced with preserving a quality of life for their citizens and the future environment's of those to come after us, and I have no problem drawing a line against such detrimental activity as this, and will continue to hold that line as long as I am in office," Allen said.
The owner of Airport XXXpress said he might consider talking further on camera about the discovery. As of this time, WMBF News has not heard back from Lewis.