CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) — Brooke Hill is watching her family a little closer after hearing a street magician tried to pull down a woman’s bikini bottom Sunday evening.
“I just think that’s really scary that anyone can get in here and do that. That would just make me feel very violated,” said Hill.
Visiting from Atlanta, Hill’s been at Pier 60 all weekend. Same area where Clearwater police said Richard Cook performed his dirty trick.
According to the Pinellas County arrest report, Richard Cook was performing Sunday around 8 p.m. when the incident occurred. The report states Cook was doing a trick in which he was trying to make a scarf disappear from his hand when he asked for a volunteer and the victim came forward.
That is when, officials say, he told the victim to keep both hands out in front of her, as he reached down and pulled her bikini bottoms out from her side.
The woman was able to grab her bottoms to not expose herself and told Cook she did not feel comfortable doing the trick. According to the arrest report, Cook responded “you will feel comfortable” and immediately did it again.
Sunset festival officials said Cook is not part of their nightly show.
“The guy wasn’t part of us,” said Dallas Saupe, street performer coordinator. “He wasn’t vetted at all. It would be like stopping this guy right here and saying hey, let me show you a trick to these people that just walked by and something happening, you know.”
He said all performers are screened.
“So they’re all vetted. The city requires us to do background checks on all the participants, not just the performers, all the vendors. Everybody that works out here for the festival,” he said. “We can be as vigilant as we can. I will step up probably my walking around my perimeter and I already do it several times a night.”
Cook has an extensive criminal history and has served six stints in the state prison system for convictions out of Alachua, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
This time, he’s been charged with felony battery and is being held at the Pinellas County Jail on a $2,500 bond.