We have blogged regularly about the danger of children being sexually abused on cruises, particularly aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships. In our experience, if your child is going to be sexually abused during a cruise - the chances are likely it will occur on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
Here's the latest example.
Last December, Sherwood Stevenson, age 71, of Clinton, Pennsylvania booked a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas for the purpose of molesting children.
According to multiple news sources, Stevenson went into the cruise ship's water zone on the Liberty of the Seas in December and fondled a 6-year-old boy. He attempted to fondle a second child in an adjoining Jacuzzi.
At a hearing before a Federal Magistrate in Pennsylvania, a FBI agent testified that Stevenson booked a trip on a Royal Caribbean cruise to "have a sexual encounter with a young boy."
Unlike most predators, he admitted to the sexual crimes on the cruise ship.
Federal prosecutors said that the cruise passenger has a a criminal past with other child sexual abuse charges.
The cruise line was able to keep the incident secret until the hearing today. Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean like to keep these type of crimes away from the public's knowledge.
June 25, 2010 Update:
We received some interesting comments below from two of our readers, pointing out that parents should not permit their children to be in the water zone, or anywhere else on cruise ships, unsupervised. I agree. But the point is that most parents do not understand the number of sexual assaults which occur during cruises, and they are led by cruise lines and travel agents to believe that cruising is safe.
The photograph to the right is from the Royal Caribbean website under "Family Cruising." The photograph is entitled H20 Zone Waterpark Fun! It certainly looks like fun. Lots of kids with no parents in sight. Royal Caribbean goes on to say:
"While the kids are away, having the time of their lives in our Adventure Ocean® youth program, mom and dad can play. Melt your stress away in our VitalitySM Spa, press your luck in Casino Royale®, take a yoga class in the Fitness Center, dance the night away in one of our themed bars, enjoy an intimate dinner together in one of our specialty restaurants, or order complimentary room service until midnight and simply enjoy a little quality time of your own. Go ahead, have the date night you've been wishing for, our Sitters at Sea service will entertain your kids . . ."
The danger as I see it is that responsible parents often get caught up in the excitement of the cruise. They let their guards down. And the cruise lines promote the idea that they will take care of your kids while failing to provide proper warnings of the types of things that we report about on this blog.
For other information about sexual abuse on cruise ships read:
Photo of Sherwood Stevenson: KDKA Pittsburg
Photo of H20 Zone Waterpark Royal Caribbean Cruises