Two weeks ago, we reported on a case where a judge in Illinois entered an order prohibiting an alleged child sexual predator from going on a cruise (with his wife) after he was caught allegedly trying to arrange a sexual tryst with a 13-year-old girl. The Court had released the alleged sexual predator on bond on the condition that he not leave the U.S. or have contact with children. The Court enforced the bond condition when the alleged predator asked for permission to go on a previously booked cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship.
This case was unique because there is also no law prohibiting sexual predators, accused or convicted, from cruising. It's the first time I have heard of a judge keeping an accused predator off of a cruise ship.
The issue whether sexual predators (accused or convicted) should be permitted to cruise re-surfaces with a blog article posted yesterday by the Miami News Times - "George Neville Rucker, Accused Predator Priest, Allowed Aboard Voyages of Discovery Cruise to South America." Written by Michael Miller, the article tells us that a defrocked Los Angeles priest accused of sexually molesting 33 girls just set sail on a three month cruise of South America on the M/V Discovery, operated by a South Florida based cruise line, Voyages of Discovery.
The article explains that advocates for sexual abuse victims accuse the cruise line of being irresponsible for permitting an accused sexual predator aboard a cruise. The priest had last been charged with molesting 12 girls in 2002. Ironically enough, he had been caught by Alaskan state troopers aboard a cruise ship bound for Russia. The charges were subsequently dropped after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California's attempt to prosecute older molestation cases.
The Miami New Times interviewed Steve Novello, President of All Discovery Cruising (which owns Voyages of Discovery), who is quoted saying "I'm not sitting here and saying that we'll just take anyone's money. (Rucker reportedly paid $12,000 for his cruise ticket). But as a cruise line we can't discriminate against anyone who's been accused of something and never convicted."
The Times also quotes Mr. Novello saying: "You'd better mention in that article every other cruise line that takes passengers aboard. Some of them take people on board who I'm pretty sure have been convicted of things. It sheds a bad light on us in a situation where . . . our competitors are doing the same thing."
Of course, the cruise line president is right. All cruise lines have an open door policy for sexual predators. As we pointed out before, because there is no law barring predators from cruise ships, there are situations where a sexual predator can book a cruise for the express purpose of molesting a child, a situation which happened earlier this year on a Royal Caribbean cruise - Sexual Predator Abuses 6 Year Old Aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.
But Mr. Novello's comments raise the issue whether cruise lines can institute policies to ban accused predators from their cruise ships? Because there is no law prohibiting predators from cruise ships does not mean that a cruise line cannot institute their own policies.
Cruise lines seem to do whatever they want to in most circumstances. They can ban passengers from bringing a bottle of wine aboard. If they can stop a bottle of Chardonnay at the gangway, they can just as easily institute a policy of banning sexual predators. Certainly they can refuse passage to a notorious monster like ex priest Rucker, accused of molesting over 30 children.
Is a potential "discrimination" lawsuit by a sexual predator justification for cruise lines having no policies barring pedophiles from cruise ships? I suppose it depends on your priorities and sense of morality. If I were the CEO of a cruise line, I'd declare my cruise ships "predator free zones." When scumbags like Rucker tried to buy a cruise ticket, I'd tell them to go to hell. And if an accused deviant like Rucker were foolish enough to file a "discrimination" lawsuit against my company, I'd be happy to pay my defense lawyers a boat load of money to defend the case.
Top photo of Ex Priest George Neville Rucker - BishopAccountability.org (Sex Abuse Allegations Against Los Angeles Archdiocese Priests)
Bottom photo of M/V Discovery U.K.'s Mail Online