A 72 year old from Pennslyvania who cruised on the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship last December remains in jail while awaiting trial on allegations that he traveled to Florida to molest boys on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
Sherwood Stevenson has been held in jail since his arrest in June on a charge of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. The sexual abuse took place in Royal Caribbean's H20 Water Park, photo left (taken by Jim Walker).
U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond in Pittsburgh presided over a detention hearing and denied a defense request seeking bond.
According to the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, Stevenson admitted to federal agents that he fondled a 6-year-old boy sitting next to him in a whirlpool sauna during the Royal Caribbean cruise.
Sexual abuse of children on cruise ships is a serious issue which the cruise lines don't like to talk about. Here is our blog on this problem which we wrote in June:
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
If parents attended to their children most of these examples wouldn't happen. I'm amazed at how many parents allow their children to run in all areas of the ship without guidance. The companies have specific, safe areas for children and the adult pools, hot tubs, elevators, etc. are NOT designated safe areas. Yes, the ship's have cameras but it only take a minute for these sick-o's to strike. When are parents going to take some of the responsibility for the control of their children? Predators are everywhere ~ malls, parks, beaches ~ so why do parents think that when you board a ship anything will be different?
Jim, I read your blog regularly with interest. When I first came accross it, I didn't realise the cruise industry would be such a hive of activity for the world of Law! And stories are getting more and more disturbing! I'm afraid I have to agree with Carolyn - parents shouldn't be creating an occassion where their children can fall into these evil hands! When it comes to Royal Caribbean, I hear time and time again client's appreciation of the fact that they can get off in ports of call and leave their children with the minders... Whilst this is perfectly safe, why do parents want to do this. They take a family holiday but can't wait to get shut of their children. An element of laziness comes into it with parents where once they all become familiar with the ship, it feels like a safe enclosed little community and they become complacent with letting their children run round as if in their own home. The 3000 other passengers may share the ship with you, but nobody knows each other from Adam!!! This situation should never have been able to occur. A 6 year old should have been constantly under adult supervision! It isn't just the danger of sexual predators - why was a 6 year old unsupervised in water???
Carolyn and U.K. Cruises. I agree with you both. However, the focus should not be on criticizing the parents but to educate the public that it is not safe to leave the kids alone on cruises and you drop your kids off with "certified" counselors at your own risk. Cruise lines like RCCL like to say it's safe, but it's not. I posted an update to explain this further. I do greatly appreciate your comments and good points!
Having worked in an area with children that were abused over 20 years ago, I do not let my children leave my sight. Because I do not trust people. Anyway now we are scheduled for a cruise in August, and I wanted to leave my 7 year old in the children area with Supervise workers while we tour an Island, Now I'm scared as hell!