"Please remove your tampon, I have a job to do."
I have heard some weird and outrageous cruise ship stories over the years, but if this one is true it takes the cake.
A lawsuit filed last month alleges that Carnival cruise employees suspected that a 17 year old girl on the Carnival Sensation possessed marijuana after she returned to the cruise ship after going ashore in Nassau. The lawsuit alleges that the girl had returned with her mother and a friend when a Carnival security officer found a bag of pot on the floor of the elevator that the group was riding on.
Accompanied by a female crew member and a male assistant housekeeping manager, the security officer entered the cabin of the girl and her friend, also a minor. The security officer allegedly made no effort to locate the child's mother or advise the children of their rights, and then threatened and intimidated the girl into a confession that the weed in the bag was hers.
The three crew members then searched the girls' cabin, and found no contraband or illegal substances. Undaunted, the three crew members alleged "threatened, coerced, and required J.G. to remove her panties, lift her dress to her waist and expose her nakedness to all agents in the cabin." Then things got especially weird. The lawsuit alleges:
- 41. J.G. was forcefully escorted to the restroom wherein all Defendant Agents were permitted to watch her urinate before returning her to the main area of the cabin.
- 42. Without cause, the DEFENDANT AGENTS threatened, coerced and required J.G. to remove a tampon and her genital cavity was inspected visually by the female currently known only as LETICIA.
- 43. This strip and cavity search took place in the plain view of male Security Officer TRAPA and male assistant housekeeping manager YUZON . . .
No additional pot was found, but the girl and her mother were reportedly escorted off of the ship where the Bahamian police placed the girl in a cell with adults where the child was allegedly assaulted. The lawsuit alleges that after the girl was released, she and her mom had to locate their own accommodations and travel arrangements home.
Courthouse News Services uploaded a copy of the lawsuit papers here.
The girl's lawyer sued on grounds of negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
This type of lawsuit comes at the wrong time for Carnival which is still suffering from the fall-out of the Costa Concordia disaster and the Costa Allegra cruise ship fire.
There are two sides of every story, and I can't wait to hear Carnival's side. I hope it's not "we can't comment on matters in litigation but rest assured the safety and security of our guests are our highest priorities."
I asked Carnival for a comment and will publish it as soon as I receive it.
April 4, 2012 Update: Here's Carnival's response in its entirety:
Carnival does not typically comment on pending litigation, but feels compelled to do so given the far-fetched claims made in this lawsuit. The claim that the plaintiff was strip searched is patently false, and obviously made in retaliation for the cruise line having disembarked the plaintiff and her mother part-way through the voyage in Nassau where the plaintiff was taken into custody by the Bahamian police.
Hat tip to Miami New Times which has also blogged about this story.