Appellate Court: "Sexual Assaults and Violent Crimes on Cruise Ships are a Serious Problem"

Yesterday, I discussed the case of Jane Doe v. Princess Cruises, where the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal addressed the issue whether a raped crewmember can pursue a case before a U.S. jury.  Or does she have to appear before an arbitrator in Bermuda where California-based cruise line Princess Cruises flags its cruise ships?

Cases like this raise all type of issues. 

Princess Cruises - Cruise Ship Rape - ArbitrationThe first issue, perhaps, is how can a country like Bermuda which did not bother to send an investigator to the Star Princess to arrest the assailant crewmember after raping a young woman on the Bermuda flagged cruise ship be an appropriate forum for the victim to seek justice?

But the Eleventh Circuit was charged with deciding a narrow legal issue: did the ten legal causes of action asserted against Princess Cruises fall within the arbitration language the cruise line inserted into the crewmember's employment contract? 

Or did the bad conduct alleged against Princess fall outside of the parameters of arbitration?   The issue of justice was not on the table.

However, the Eleventh Circuit nonetheless departed from the issue before it and could not help but to address the fundamental issue whether women are safe on cruise ships.  It stated and I quote:

"Unfortunately, if congressional reports are to be believed, sexual assaults and other violent crimes on cruise ships are a serious problem."  (emphasis added)

Quite frankly, I have never seen an appellate court depart from the legal issue before it.  I have never seen an appellate court give "advisory opinions" or social commentary like this.

The Court was obviously displeased with the facts alleged in the case and, like the appellate panel stated at oral argument on this case, raised the basic question whether cruising is safe or whether crimes against women on cruise ship go un-prosecuted.  Here is the language of the Court:

The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Staff has reported that: 

At a hearing in March 2006 convened by the Committee on Government Reform, cruise industry executives testified that 178 passengers on North American cruises reported being sexually assaulted between 2003 and 2005. During that same period, 24 people were reported missing and four others reported being robbed. 

Crimes Against Americans on Cruise Ships: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transp. of the H. Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 110th Cong. 2 (2007).  From fiscal year 2000 through June 2005, the FBI opened 305 case files involving “crime on the high seas,” and during those five years about 45% of those cases were sexual assaults that occurred on cruise shipsInternational Maritime Security: Joint Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Nat’l Sec., Emerging Threats, and Int’l Relations and the Subcomm. on Crim. Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Res. of the H. Comm. on Gov’t Reform, 109th Cong. 8 (2005) (statement of  Rep.Souder, Chairman of the Subcomm. on Crim. Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Res., Member, H. Comm. on Gov’t Reform).

Salvador Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, testified before Congress in 2007 about sexual and other physical assaults that have taken place on cruise ships: “Sexual assault and physical assaults on cruise ships were the leading crime reported to and investigated by the FBI on the high seas over the last five years, 55 percent and 22 percent respectively . . . . Employees were identified as suspects in 37 percent of the cases, and 65 percent of those employees were not U.S. citizens.” Crimes Against Americans on Cruise Ships: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transp. of the H. Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 110th Cong. 12 (2007) (statement of Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI).

Salvador Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, testified before Congress in 2007 that the majority of cruise ship sexual assault cases are not prosecuted. Crimes Against Americans on Cruise Ships: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transp. of the H. Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 110th Cong. 12 (2007) (statement of Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI). (emphasis added)

When appellate courts offer commentary about the "serious problem" of rapes and violent crimes on cruise ships based on data provided to Congress by the FBI, the cruise industry may consider implementing changes to their shipboard procedures to making cruising safer for women.   

 

Photo credit:  Star Princess cruise ship, Seattle Washington - Jim Walker

Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
http://www.cruiselawnews.com/admin/trackback/259882
Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Alex - November 2, 2011 6:05 AM

i proposed that if theres a Law that a victim can able to appeal the case in their own country after the jury especially if the two person involved is the same nationality,its difficult to have a trial in the foriegn country..they dont bother to care the culture,character of the victim and the suspect.dismissing the case too quickly and acquit the suspect if the victim is not dead,harmed,or on drugging,are we gonna wait to this horrible happened?after that the suspect goes home safe and sound have thier vacation and able to cross the country without any hindrances,problems in any immgiration he went!and the victim left nothing but only critiscm,alot of questions can't answer,having troubles in mind,nervous breakdown.is there any in good behaviour accused a person that she was sex assault?trying to fight despite of the consequences and at the end the prosecutor maked a decision that it is consensual..i really don't understand what the real LAW onboard is?

Post A Comment / Question Use this form to add a comment to this entry.







Remember personal info?
Send To A Friend Use this form to send this entry to a friend via email.