Recent Lewd and Lascivious Conduct on HAL Cruise Line Show Shortcomings of CVSSA Crime Reporting

Last fall, the Arizona Republic reported that cruise travelers for the first time can see what crimes are being reported aboard cruise ships operating in U.S. ports.

The newspaper commented on improvements once the Department of Transportation replaced the Coast Guard as the agency responsible for reporting crimes on cruise ships leaving US. ports. Consumers previously needed to check the websites of each cruise line to try and find out what crimes occur on which cruise line. Carnival Corporation bundled the crimes of its brands (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises)  together under one name, HAl Veendamso that it was impossible for consumers to identify on which cruise line the reported crimes occurred.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") of 2010  was supposed to provide the public with reports of certain crimes aboard cruise ships, such as deaths, sexual assaults, thefts and missing-person reports.

But the cruise-friendly agencies responsible for disclosing the crime statistics requested changes to the wording in the CVSSA which rendered crime-reporting provisions useless.

Language added before its passage altered the CVSSA bill so that only crimes "no longer under investigation by the FBI" were reported on the website. An Arizona Republic investigation in 2012 revealed the language was altered at the request of the FBI and the Coast Guard, apparently with pressure from the cruise industry

The problem is that the FBI often refused to open files when crime occurred on cruise ships or, when it did, the FBI often kept its files open long after it has decided not to investigate the case. So any crime that the FBI didn't investigate - or when it technically kept its investigation files open - was not included in the Coast Guard database.

The language of the statute were changed which resulted in far more crimes, particularly sexual assaults, being disclosed to to the public by the DOT. In the first six months of 2016 far more sexual assaults were disclosed (39) than during the same period in 2015 (6) when the reporting was disclosed on the Coast guard portal.  

You can see the DOT's portal here.

But a major problem remains.  The cruise lines are the one which determine whether an incident constitutes "sexual assault." Many cases of sexual molestation of minors are mis-classified as "groping" or as "inappropriate touching," neither of which is a crime under the CVSSA .

The same is true regarding the sexual offense which the HAL waiter was arrested for on the Holland America Line Veendam last week. The CVSSA does not include "lewd and lascivious" conduct with a child as a reportable offense. 

Cruise expert Professor Dr. Ross Klein, who has testified regarding the issue of crime on cruise ships Gede Sukrantara, HAL Veendambefore the U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate, pointed this problem out on his website last October. Dr. Klein has reviewed hundreds of incident reports submitted by cruise lines and has observed a tendency for cruise lines to report incidents of sexual assault as either "sexual contact" (which is not reportable under the CVSSA) or as "molestation" or as "groping" or "inappropriate touching" or "lewd and lascivious conduct" (none of which are reportable pursuant to the specific language of the statute). 

The cruise victim's group, the International Cruise Victims, has tried to introduce legislation requiring the cruise industry to disclose when children are victims of crime.  Several years ago, Dr. Klein determined that between 17.5 and 30 percent of the sexual assault victims on cruise ships are minors. The cruise industry vigorously opposed the legislation and refuses to disclose when children are sexually assaulted on their ships.

The crime that occurred on the Veendam when a 26 year old Indonesian HAL waiter (photo right) locked himself in a bathroom on the cruise ship and engaged in oral sex with a fifteen year old girl is exactly the type of sexual misconduct that families need to understand happens all too often on family cruise vacations, no matter how hard the cruise industry tries to parse words to keep it secret.

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Photo credit: Top: Fletcher6 - CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia. ; bottom: Gede Sukrantara Facebook page.

Crew Member Allegedly Molests Child in Livorno, Italy.

A newspaper in Italy reports that two days ago police arrested a 51 year old crew member, who had gone ashore in Livorno, on charges of sexual assaulting a child believed to be around 7 to 8 years old.

The crew member is identified as a Filipino bar tender who arrived in Livorno on an unidentified cruise ship in port. He took a bus into the city and come across a group of school children when, according to an eye witness, he allegedly sexually molested the child.  The witness who observed the incident immediately alerted the teachers who accompanied the student group, while the 51 year old man attempted to get away. The witness followed at a distance without losing sight of the man and reported the alleged incident to the police who arrested him. Other bystanders were threatening to attack the man. 

According to the Crew Center website which reported on the alleged crime, there were five cruise ships in the port of Livorno that day: the Azamara Quest, Holland America Line Eurodam, Norwegian Epic, and Pullmantur Sovereign

Livorno is a major port called on by many cruise lines where passengers can take excursions to Pisa, Florence, or the Cinque Terre region.

Although this incident, if true, took off of the cruise ship, it should act as a reminder that pedophiles, both crew members and passengers, exist on cruises just like in your home town.  One of the first articles I wrote when I started this blog several years ago dealt with this issue - Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships.

May 29 2016 Update:  The bartender, I have learned, was reportedly employed aboard HAL's Eurodam.

Photo Credit: Luca Aless - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia

11 Year Old Girl Sexually Assaulted on Disney Magic Cruise Ship

Juan Manuel Palma Ortega / Disney Wonder Sexual Assault MinorWSVN Channel 7 reports that a 31 year old man was arrested for allegedly molesting  an 11-year-old girl aboard a Disney cruise ship which sailed last week from the port of Miami.

The news channel says that the man is from Honduras and he allegedly fondled the little girl on board the Disney Magic, which sailed from Port Miami on December 18, 2015. The stations says that "while on the ship, the girl told her parents that a man, later identified as 31-year-old Juan Manuel Palma Ortega, fondled her three times."

The Magic returned to the port of Miami yesterday.

The station further reports that "Miami-Dade police detained Palma Ortega back at Port Miami, where he allegedly confessed to the crime. He was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor and is being held without bond."  

His mug shot is to the left.

The news article does not state whether he is a crew member or not. His Facebook page states that from Tegucigalpa, Honduras where many crew members are from. However, there is no information confirming this yet.

This latest alleged crime should serve to remind the public that sexual assault of minors do occur on cruise ships, even on those cruise ships which cater to families.

Last year, a Disney employee, age 36, of Jakarta Indonesia (photo below right), employed as a cabin attendant on the Disney Dream, molested a girl during a family cruise. He befriended the family during the cruise and assaulted the 13 year old girl on the last morning of the cruise. We are representing the family of the child.  The Port Canaveral Police department arrested the Disney cruise employee. He was Disney Pervert Cruise Shipsentenced earlier this year to 70 months in jail.  You can read about that case here.

Disney refused to timely report a similar incident when a 33 year old Disney waiter molested an 11 year old girl on the Disney Dream. Although the incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port in Port Canaveral, Disney sailed the cruise ship to the Bahamas in what appeared to be an attempt to aid the crew member in escaping justice. The Bahamas, as expected, refused to arrest the molester and Disney then flew the crew member back to his home country, India. WKMG covered the disturbing story. You can see photos of the incident here and read our account of the crime here.

Florida is the only state which gives jurisdiction to state police agencies to arrest foreign crew members or passengers who commit sexual crimes in international waters and provides jurisdiction to state prosecutors to criminally charge these perverts. Typically other states must rely on the FBI and federal prosecutors who do a terrible job investigating crimes at sea,  

Photo Credit: Top: Miami-Dade County Police via WSVN; Bottom FOX 35.

Allegation: Carnival Crew Member Sexually Assaulted Boy on Valor

WFTV reports that a crew member on a Carnival cruise ship allegedly sexually assaulted a teenage boy last Friday.

The news station says that Carnival announced the incident, although it is less than clear when or how the cruise line made the statement. 

The incident allegedly occurred on board the Carnival Valor, which is based in Port Canaveral.

Yovany Sauzo-BatizThe news article reports that the cruise line notified the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI of the incident. Here's how WFTV described the case, based on the Sheriff's office.

"Yovany Sauzo-Batiz, 46, of Honduras, was working on the Carnival Valor as a stateroom steward Friday when he tried to start a conversation with a teenage passenger in a sauna. The victim then moved to a shower area to avoid the suspect when the alleged sexual conduct occurred. Immediately following the incident, the victim identified the crewmember to his father, who detained him with the assistance of other passengers until ship security arrived.”

Sauzo-Batiz was charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation.

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Photo Credit:Brevard Sheriff's Office via WFTV