Most passengers don't realize the danger which women and children face on cruise ships. For example, who would think that they are at risk of being raped on the cruise line featured in the popular television series the "Love Boat?"
The "Love Boat" - Carefree, Romantic Cruises
Princess Cruises is a cruise line headquartered in Santa Clarita, California. It is perhaps most famous for the Pacific Princess which served as the cruise ship for the "Love Boat." It now operates thirteen large cruise ships: Caribbean Princess, Coral Princess, Crown Princess, Dawn Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Island Princess, Ruby Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess, Star Princess, and Sun Princess - as well as four smaller cruise ships, Ocean Princess, Pacific Princess, Royal Princess, and Tahitian Princess. Princess markets an illusion of carefree honeymoon vacations and luxurious romantic getaways.
Rapes and Molestation on the "Love Boat?"
But notwithstanding its idyllic image, crew members have drugged and raped women during cruises on the "Love Boat" fleet. Anguished parents have also reported their children being sexually assaulted and molested during cruises with Princess.
The most publicized sexual assault this year involved Jorge Manuel Teixeira, a head waiter aboard Princess Cruises' Coral Princess. According to the FBI, the Princess crew member invited a 42-year-old passenger to share a bottle of wine and then attacked her. He was charged with a federal count of aggravated sexual assault. The 17-page FBI affidavit that describes the crime and a 100-page transcript of the crew member's interview with two FBI agents are available on line.
Sexual Crimes on Cruise Ships are Rarely Prosecuted
What is remarkable about this particular crime is not that it occurred, but that the FBI actually arrested the crew member and he is awaiting trial. Most crimes on foreign flagged cruise ships involve foreign crew members and do not result in arrests. Although Princess is headquartered in California and has a base of operations in Los Angeles, Seattle, and South Florida, it tries to use the fact that it registered its business in Bermuda (to avoid U.S. taxes) to also avoid culpability. Trust me, the country of Bermuda is not going to send a team of investigators to a Princess cruise ship sailing to Alaska and conduct an investigation that leads to an arrest of a Princess Cruises crew member.
There have been a number of sexual assaults against women and children on the Princess cruise ships over the years. These crimes continue to this day. I recently had to fly from Miami to Seattle to a Princess cruise ship after a Princess crew member had been drugged and raped on the cruise ship. I have also discussed in other articles the problem with sexual assaults on the Princess sister company P & O Cruises, which like Princess Cruises, is wholly owned by cruise giant Carnival Corporation.
Foreseeability of Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships?
A number of rapes over the last year or two have not yet been reported by the press. However, there are cases readily available on line. For example, in the case of D.C. v. Princess Cruise Lines, filed in California, a 15-year boy traveling with his family reported that he had been sexually assaulted in the sauna on the cruise ship.
Princess Cruises claimed that it was not "foreseeable" that a passenger could be sexually assaulted during a cruise. Princess made this claim notwithstanding the hundreds of rapes and molestations which the cruise line industry was required to report to Congress during cruise crime hearings.
Princess Cruises - a Problem Dating Back to 1993
The child's attorney introduced evidence that Princess knew that there had been a history of prior crimes. The in-house lawyer for the cruise line, Mona Ehrenreich, admitted in deposition testimony that there were seven incidents of sexual assault alone from the time she joined the cruise line until year 2002. One incident involved an assault by a crew member against a minor in a cabin.
In addition, the case contains fascinating testimony by Charles Harris, who was employed as the Senior Chief Security Officer of Carnival Cruise lines between 1991 and 1994.
Princess Cruises' Parent Company - Carnival - A Prevalence of Sex Crimes During Cruises
Officer Harris indicated that the problem of sexual assault on ships was "well known" and "well documented" and he was aware of the "prevalence" of sexual assaults and rapes on cruise ships. While retained in a case against Carnival, he learned that Carnival had had over 100 reported cases of sexual assault and rape on its ships. FBI agents in Miami reportedly are called to investigate a shipboard sexual assault case "about every other week."
A Lack of Transparency
One of the problems with cruise lines is they lack transparency. For example, last year I attended a hearing before the U.S. Senate regarding cruise ship crimes. This hearing was just one of the five Congressional hearings I have attended in the last four years regarding the problem with sexual assaults. The cruise industry's chronic under-reporting of rapes has always been a hot topic with Congressional leaders.
One of the speakers at the hearing was Evelyn Fortier, the former vice president of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. She informed the Senate sub-committee that there are three explanations for cruise line's refusal to accurately report shipboard rapes: (1) cruise ships were not required to report crimes on cruise ships and there was no way to assess whether the ships fully and accurately reported sexual assaults on their vessels; (2) sexual assaults, whether on land or sea, are historically under-reported; and (3) cruise lines conceal, under-report or misclassify sexual assaults out of fear that the bad press will cause them to lose customers.
Added to this list should also be that the cruise lines like Princess try to avoid legal liability for the crimes their crew members commit. Concealing or mischaracterizing rapes is one way the cruise lines try and protect their legal interests.
These issues were discussed in an interesting article entitled: "Sexual Assaults on Cruise Liners May Be More Frequent Than Previously Reported" in SecurityManagement.com.
"Love Boat" Crime Statistics
Like other cruise lines, Princess Cruises has a problem with sexual assaults on its cruise ships. And like other lines, it pretends it doesn't have a problem. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 which requires cruise lines to report all crimes to the U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI. Now it will be interesting to see just how much crime really occurs aboard the "Love Boat."
"Love Boat" Amazon.com The "Love Boat" Season 1, Volume 1
Ruby Princess Rezsox's Flickr Photostream
Coral Princess Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com
Star Princess Jim Walker, Seattle WA July 4, 2009