Two U.S. Passengers Arrested for Rape on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the SeasThe Jamaica Gleaner reports that 2 U.S. men aboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Sea, which docked in Falmouth Jamaica yesterday morning, are accused of raping a female passenger aboard the cruise ship.

The Gleaner says that the "men were accused of raping a female passenger who they were partying with the night before on the vessel."

The sexual assault reportedly occurred at 5:30 AM, yesterday morning, when the cruise ship was sailing approximately 50 miles outside Jamaican waters.

The Gleaner also says that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with assistance from the Jamaican police, is investigating the incident.

It is less than clear what this means as the FBI typically does not travel to the Caribbean ports to investigate crimes like this. The typical situation is for the FBI to get involved only after the cruise ship returns to an U.S. port. Sometimes the victim will get off of the cruise ship at the next port and fly back to the U.S. in circumstances like this.

Sexual assaults are not infrequent on cruise ships, particularly given the tremendous amount of alcohol sold by the cruise lines.

The newspaper says that the Navigator will return to Galveston tomorrow, "where the accused will be processed."

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Bahnfrend

Bahamas Crime Watch: How Do You Manage a Country's Reputation With Stories Like These?

News accounts of violent crime against both tourists and residents in the Bahamas continue to be regularly published in the international and local press. 

David Jessop, the Managing Director of the Caribbean Council, has written insightful articles this year regarding the damage to the image of the Bahamas caused by articles in social media regarding such crime. He states that that the Bahamas, like other Caribbean islands, doesn't have the social media skills necessary to promptly and effectively minimize damage to the country's reputation when tourists become victims of violent criminal acts. I suggest reading his articles: Social Media and Managing Mitchell Nini Crime BahamasReputation published in January, and Reputational Damage published a few days ago in the Bahamas Tribune.

But how does the Bahamas manage its reputation when its newspapers are regularly filled with gruesome stories of violence virtually every day?

On April 30th the local newspapers in the Bahamas reported that a jury acquitted three Bahamian men in their 20's of the "near-fatal stabbing" of a Canadian tourist, Mitchell Nini. Mr. Nini was stabbed 7 times in the chest, back and stomach when the thugs robbed a gold chain from Mr. Nini's friend. 

I have written before that tourists injured during violent crimes in Nassau cannot find justice in the archaic Bahamian legal system, although the Bahamian tourist police seem effective in boarding cruise ships at the wharf and arresting U.S. citizens for small amounts of pot

I first learned of the acquittal of Mr. Nini's attackers when his friends and family posted the news of the acquittal on Facebook and Twitter.  The articles posted by his mother on Twitter indicate that the three men confessed to the crime but later claimed that the police beat them into signing the confessions. 

The Canadian press published New Brunswick Man Warns of Traveling After Being Stabbed in Bahamas. The newspaper article shows a photo of Mr. Nini recovering from the vicious attack in the hospital while saying that tourists should stay clear of the island. He told the Global News "Whether you feel like you’re safe on the resort, as soon as you step off the resort you’re in a war zone.”

Mr. Nini's reference to a "war" is appropriate.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perrie Christie told that Tribune newspaper last week that the government is "developing new crime fighting strategies to win the 'war' that they are fighting against the 'hostile young men' in the capital."

Meanwhile, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader Branville McCartney made the news stating that he does not feel safe given the ongoing scourge of crime in the Bahamas. He told the Tribune “I don’t feel safe in this country . . . We live in paradise, but we are paralysed by fear. We are in prison in our own homes because of the criminal element running amuck in this country.”

There is good reason for even the politicians to be afraid of crime in Nassau. In December, the Acting Prime Minister Philip Davis was robbed at gunpoint. Then in January a police officer assigned to guard a residence of the Prime Minister Christie was arrested on suspicion of stealing a television at the residence. The latter is a petty crime I know, but you have to shake your head when the bad guys are bold enough to stick up the Acting Prime Minister and the police are stealing from the Prime Minister.

What's the response from the Bahamas to these and many other stories about trouble in paradise?  I have received many comments from the citizens of the Bahamas chastising me for suggesting that the out-of-control crime in Nassau also exists throughout the many islands which make up the country. But there are too many stories about crime against tourists outside of Nassau as well.

Last month Edgar George Dart, a 56-year-old British citizen who lived in Canada, was shot and killed and slowly died in front of his family after three masked intruders burst into his mother's home in Freeport. And a 14 year-old U.S. girl was raped on one of the out islands just ten days ago.   

Violent crime is a part of life in Nassau. Dangerous young men with knives and guns are menacing the residents and tourists alike. Do the families on Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise ships know that a war is raging in Nassau and even the top politicians in the Bahamas are afraid of crime and have been victimized themselves? How can a country even attempt to manage its reputation as a paradise for tourists when the local residents are paralyzed by fear? 

Watch the video of Mr. Nini below: 

Consider reading: Bahamas Responds to Making the List of Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations: "The Bahamas Is Safe"

Bahamas Weekly: The Bahamas - Still Paralyzed by Fear: "Over the past two weeks, newspaper headlines have recounted horrific stories of violence, murder and mayhem which have gripped communities here in New Providence and on Grand Bahama Island; cementing crime and the fear of crime as one of the country’s most pressing national issues."

Have a thought? Leave a message below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Global News

Passenger Alleges 2 Crew Members Raped Her on Carnival Victory

Inside Edition aired a video this week about a 28 year old woman who alleges that two crew members raped her during a Carnival cruise aboard the Victory last year.

The young woman told Inside Edition that Carnival served her a lot of alcohol and she has no recollection of how she ended up in the crew quarters. She indicates that once in the crew members' cabin, the two Carnival employees held her down and raped her repeatedly. She feared that the men were going to throw her overboard. 

As is the situation with most alleged crimes on the high seas, the FBI declined to prosecute. Our experience with the FBI is that federal agents (unlike state prosecutors) typically decline to pursue Carnival Cruise Sexual Assaulta prosecution whenever alcohol is involved. The irony, of course, is that Carnival makes hundreds of millions of dollars in alcohol sales each year. Alcohol is often involved in rape crimes on cruise ships. 

Inside Edition later sent an undercover video crew aboard another Carnival cruise ship, the Fascination, to determine whether Carnival employees were fraternizing with the female passengers. Such conduct is supposedly prohibited by Carnival's policies, but things are often quite different on the high seas than what is written in the rule books.

During a four day cruise to the Bahamas, two uniformed officers were reportedly observed cruising in the ship’s main bar. They even flirted with one of the Inside Edition employees and asking her to try their alcoholic drinks.

The Inside Edition crew later saw the two officers with their white uniforms in the ship's disco. The officers reportedly were dirty dancing with 20-year-old twins, making out with the passengers, and standing by the girls' cabins in the passenger area. 

Carnival responded to the expose by stating “the safety of our guests and crew is our foremost priority." 

The program disclosed that there have been more than 150 reported allegations of rape and sexual assault aboard cruise ships that visit U.S. ports since 2010. 

 

Photo and story credit: Inside Edition  

CNN Video: Crew Member Accused of Attacking Cruise Passenger, Tying to Push Her Overboard

Today CNN covered the story of the violent sexual attack by Holland America Line crew member Ketut Pujayasa on a 31 year old passenger aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam

The 28 year old Indonesian crew member worked as a cabin attendant and used the master key card to gain access to the woman's cabin. He reportedly sexually assaulted, beat and choked the woman, and then tried to throw her overboard. Attacks against women in their cruise cabins have happened before.

Read our article we posted this morning: Who's the Most Likely Sexual Predator on a Cruise Ship? A Male Cabin Attendant with a Master Key Card.

CNN interviewed me in the video:

 

Who's the Most Likely Sexual Predator on a Cruise Ship? A Male Cabin Attendant with a Master Key Card

Are sexual crimes committed by cabin attendants against women in their cruise ship cabins "shocking?"

If you define "shocking" as "disturbing" or "upsetting," of course.  

But if you define "shocking" as "unforeseeable" or "unpredictable," not at all. Who's the most likely sexual predator on a cruise ship?  A male cabin attendant. What's the most likely location of a sexual assault? A passenger's cabin. What's the most likely way that a cabin attendant gets into the passenger cabin?  By using the master key card. 

99% of cabin attendants are honest, law-abiding and hard-working men and women from around the world who are trying to support their families back home. But in our experience, the majority of sexual assaults on ships have been committed by male attendants who enter the passenger cabins and attack women and children.

Over four years ago, I wrote that "in our experience, the crew member most likely to harass or assault a passenger is a male cabin attendant in his late 20's or early 30's." I warned women to be on the Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Ship outlook of a male cabin attendant who is "most likely to use his pass key and enter a woman's cabin at night."

After the vicious attack by HAL cabin attendant Ketut Pujayasa, age 28, against the passenger on the Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America Line issued a PR statement stating that that it was shocked" by the crime.  But the choice of the word "shock" is intended by the HAL lawyers and risk management department to suggest that the crime was unforeseeable and, as such, it can't be liable for the rape.

The word is also intended to convey to the public that things like this just don't happen on HAL cruises. Saying the crime is "rare" is the favorite cruise line defense. Better yet, the cruise lines say that sexual assault is so rare and unpredictable that it's just "shocking."  

A couple of years ago, a young college student we represented was raped by a cabin attendant after the cruise ship sailed to Nassau. The cabin attendant who attacked her was in his late 20's. He entered the young girl's cabin when she was asleep by using his key card after hours.

The young woman's case was presented to our U.S. Congress. The Congressmen and Congresswomen were asked the rhetorical question why would a cruise line staff a woman's cabin with a male cabin attendant in his 20's? Why would a cruise line permit such a cabin attendant have a master key card that would permit him to enter a woman's cabin 24 hours a day?  Why didn't the cruise Key Card Cruise Ship Cabin Doorassign women cabin attendants to clean women's cabins? Why didn't the cruise line deactivate the cabin attendant's key card after hours?

Simple steps like these were suggested long ago as a way for the cruise lines to avoid an entirely predictable crime like this. But instead of learning a lesson, the cruise lines engaged in its usual PR statements: "crime is rare" or "our employees are carefully vetted" or "the safety of our passengers is our highest priority" or other PR poppycock.

So what did the woman staying in her cabin on Nieuw Amsterdam have to contend with on Valentine's Day? A male cabin attendant in his late 20's, responsible for a woman's cabin, who had access to a master key card.

It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Little did the victim know.

When will the cruise lines take the key cards away from the male cabin attendants?  When will the cruise lines warn their female guests that crimes like this have occurred over and over?

Do we really have to listen to cruise companies like HAL pretend that they are "shocked?" 

 

Photo Credit:  

Top: AP Photo/Marianne Armshaw via CTV

Bottom: CNN New Day

Holland America Line Crew Member Raped Passenger & Tried to Throw Her Overboard

HAL Sexual AssaultThe Sun Sentinel reports today that a Holland America Line (HAL) crew member sexually assaulted and then tried to throw a woman from her balcony.

Reporter Paula McMahon writes that the crime occurred aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam. 

The crew member is identified as Ketut Pujayasa, age 28. from Indonesia. He worked a stateroom attendant. He used a master key card to gain illegal entry into the victim's cabin.

The article describes that the crew member "appeared with no warning inside the passenger's darkened stateroom in the middle of the night, raped, beat, punched and strangled her and then tried to throw her from the balcony into the ocean in international waters somewhere off the coast of Roatan, Honduras."

The attack was horrific. The newspaper states that the crew member struck the woman several times including using a laptop computer and a curling iron, and that he "used a phone cord and curling iron cord to try to silence her screams and yells for help."

The attack "went back and forth from her bed to the stateroom balcony and back into the room."

The criminal charges against the HAL crew included an account of another passenger who saw the victim when she ran out of her cabin, dressed only in a tank top that was covered in blood:

"The passenger also noted that [the victim] had a curling iron wrapped and tangled around her neck and/or hair. He also described [her] as having black eyes and visible bruising around her neck and shoulders. [The woman], fearing death was imminent, asked the passenger to relay to her family how much she loved them."

The 31 year-old woman was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in South Florida because of her severe injuries.

The crew member was booked into the Broward County jail. He claims that the rape and assault were revenge because he felt slighted.

We previously mentioned the incident in an article on February 15th: Crew Member Assaults Passenger Aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam During "Bare Necessities" Cruise

Our View: We have attended six Congressional hearings before the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate about crimes against passengers, There have been several hearings where other women have described the danger of permitting male cabin attendants to have access to master key cards for the passengers' cabins. There is no good reason to permit male cabin attendants to be responsible for cabins where there are single women or children. Their key cards must be deactivated after working hours.

Photo: Ketut Pujayasa - Sun Sentinel / Broward County Sheriff's Office 

Crew Member Assaults Passenger Aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam During "Bare Necessities" Cruise

Holland america Line Bare NecessitiesCruise Critic reports that a Holland America Line (HAL) crew member assaulted a woman aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam yesterday.

According to Cruise Critic, HAL released the following statement:

"A 31-year-old female U.S. citizen on board ms Nieuw Amsterdam was assaulted by a crewmember in her cabin early this morning. The female guest was cared for in the ship's hospital and was in stable condition prior to disembarking the ship today in Roatan, Honduras, for air transfer back to the U.S. Holland America Line is providing full support to the woman. We are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident. The safety of our guests is our utmost priority.

The crewmember was placed under guard where he will remain until remanded to authorities. The FBI and other appropriate authorities were notified. A thorough investigation is in progress.

The ship is on a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise which departed on Feb. 9, sailing roundtrip Fort Lauderdale."

Holland America Line - Bare NecessitiesCruise Critic says that the cruise was organized by "Bare Necessities" which is a nude cruise travel company.

We last wrote about "Bare Necessities" when the Royal Caribbean cruise line kicked off a disabled cruise passenger from its cruise ship during a Bare Necessities cruise.

We have attended six Congressional hearing where crimes against cruise passengers have been discussed. Cruise lines will suggest that such incidents are "rare" but sexual assaults occur more often than companies like HAL will admit.

The HAL cruise ship returns to port in South Florida tomorrow. Will the FBI arrest the crew member?

February 18 2014 Update: HAL crew member held without bail after raping passenger and trying to throw her overboard.

 

Photo Images Credit: Bare Necessities

Read the Sun Sentinel data base of cruise lines assaults, including HAL.

Cruise Ship Crime & Sexual Assault Lawyer: Read About Our Experience, Reputation & Results

There has been a great deal of debate over the past decade regarding the amount of crime which occurs on cruise ships. The cruise industry claims that crime is "rare," whereas at least one cruise expert who testified before Congress stated that the rate of crime on cruise ships is twice that of crime ashore.

Of course one crime is too many if it affects you or your family. 

The most likely crime on cruise ships is sexual assault.  The most likely victim is a woman or child aboard the ship as a passenger. And the most likely perpetrator is a crew member.  

Strict Liability: Cruise lines are strictly liable to pay compensation when a crew member sexually assaults a passenger. There is no need to have to prove that the cruise line knew that the ship employee Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Crimehad a record of assaulting other passengers and/or that the cruise ship was negligent in failing to warn the passenger of the danger of being attacked on the ship. If the crew member rapes a passenger, then the cruise line is vicariously liable.

Our firm has education and substantial experience to handle maritime sexual assault lawsuits against the major cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

Education:  Jim Walker focused on maritime law at Tulane University School of Law. He studied all of the maritime law personal injury courses and graduated in 1983.  He has practiced maritime law for 30 years.

Experience:  The firm has handled sexual assault cases against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean where women and children have been victimized on cruise ships. Three of our clients have testified before the U.S. Congress about being sexually assaulted during cruises. We have attended eight Congressional hearings about issues regarding the safety of cruise ship passengers.

Reputation:  Jim Walker has referred to as a "Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" by Fox News; a "Top Maritime Lawyer" by the ABA Journal; a "Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" by Reuters; a "Top Cruise Lawyer" by USA Today; and a "Leading Miami Attorney" by Newsweek Magazine. Read "about Jim Walker" for further details.

Results: We have obtained compensation for victims in a wide variety of cruise ship rape, sexual assault, and molestation cases, including the following recoveries: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000, $250,000, and $115,000. (Please note that all cases are unique. These results may or may not reflect the compensation obtainable in your case).

Clients: We have represented women from ages 18 to 45 and parents of children from age 3 to 17. We have represented over 75 women and children sexually assaulted on cruise ships.

Types and Locations of Sexual Assaults:  Cases we handled include a variety of cruise ship employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor. The rapes and molestation cases occurred in various locations on the cruise ship. The most common locations are passenger cabins, storage rooms, and crew bathrooms.

We have studied the problem of cruise ship crimes extensively.  Consider reading:

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Rape of 15 Year Old Girl Is Latest Crime Against Children on Carnival Cruises

Another Child Porn Bust, This Time on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas

How safe is a cruise? Even after new law, it's hard to say

If you have a question about cruise ship crimes, and in particular sexual assault during cruises, please call our office at (305) 995 5300. or email me directly at jim@cruiselaw.com.

Rape & Sexual Assault Most Common Crimes on Cruise Ships

A local CBS station in Alabama reports that since January 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard publicly reported only 31 crimes aboard cruise ships. However, after Senator Rockefeller placed pressure on the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian on Thursday reported 94 crimes and 20 crimes, respectively, between October 2010 and the end of June of this year. These figures do not include Carnival. 

Is this a complete list of crimes? No. Extracting honest crimes statistics from the cruise industry is a long process. 

The news station states that the most common crime allegations are rape and sexual assault, followed by thefts.  

 

Another Rape Alleged on the Love Boat

News sources in Alaska are reporting that Alaska State Troopers are investigating an incident where a female crew member alleges that she was sexually assaulted on a Princess Cruises sailing between Seattle and Alaska this week. 

The crew member states that two other crew members sexually assaulted her while the cruise ship was sailing to Juneau. The Alaska State Troopers say the assault took place between 4 AM and 6 AM on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers says that “Yes, suspects have been identified;” however, Princess Cruises Star Princess Sexual Assault“No arrests have been made.”

The Princess cruise ship is making additional port calls as it heads back to Seattle, the point of origin for the cruise. Both the victim and the suspects are still aboard the cruise ship.

Princess Cruises released a statement claiming that after reporting the alleged assault, the woman "indicated she no longer wanted to pursue the matter with law enforcement." 

It's a shame to see that the alleged victim was not taken off the cruise ship for medical evaluation and counseling and provided with a safe environment where she could be away from the alleged perpetrators.

Its also disturbing to see the cruise line issue a press statement claiming that the alleged victim doesn't want the matter further investigated.  It smacks of Princess trying to minimize what happened for marketing purposes.

The incident occurred aboard the Star Princess.

We have written about the problem of sexual assaults on Princess cruise shipsin the past:

Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships

Princess Cruises Sexual Assault Trial Begins

Princess Cruises Captain Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime Against Girl on Princess Cruise Ship

Cruise Rape Case Begins - Bermuda Press Tries to Conceal Connection to Princess Cruises

Do you have a thought about this issue?  Please leave a comment on our Facebook page here.

 

Photo Credit: Star Princess - Jim Walker Seattle Washington

Man Arrested on Charges of Raping Passenger Aboard the Carnival Dream

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that a 19-year-old Kentucky man pleaded not guilty in District Court in St. Thomas on charges that he raped another passenger during a Carnival cruise. The charges specifically "sexual assault with intent to commit a felony."

Cruise passenger Conner Layne was arrested after a 18-year-old woman's complaint that he tried to rape her while on board the Carnival Dream during a June 4th cruise. 

Carnival Dream Cruise ShipThe newspaper states that the alleged crime took place while the Dream was in international waters sailing to St. Thomas.

According to an affidavit written by FBI special agent Rafael Fernandez, an 18-year-old woman reported that she and Layne were "having drinks in the ship's club when Layne invited her back to his room. Once there, she had another drink and sat on the bed, and she and Layne began kissing and Layne started 'touching her about the body'." Layne then forcibly "held her down, pulled up her dress, pulled down her underwear and penetrated her with his penis."

The woman said that because Layne was intoxicated, she was able to push him off of her, and she ran out of the cabin. 

The District Magistrate released Layne from custody after he posted a $10,000 bond.

The newspaper states that Layne was allowed to return to his home in Kentucky but had to provide DNA samples as a condition of his release.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia /  Kuloskulos

Did Costa Cruises Assist an Alleged Rapist Escape Justice?

The  Philippine Daily Inquirer reports on the case of a a Filipino crew member who alleges that her supervisor raped her while she was working on board the MV Costa Classica last year.

The victim worked as a security guard on the cruise ship. She alleges that she was summoned to the security office on the cruise ship where she observed two security officers drinking alcohol. The men are of Indian nationality: Joseph Chacko (Chief Security Officer) and Anoop Palatty (Assistant Security Officer).

The crew member claims that Palatty made indecent advances, but she left the office and continued with her security patrol. Later that night, she was summoned again, this time to Chacko’s cabin, where Costa Classica Cruise Shipshe went believing it was official business. She claims that the two officers were still drinking when she arrived at the cabin.

According to the crew member, Chacko then allegedly sexually abused her as soon as Palatty left the cabin. The victim alleges that she tried to resist but she was overpowered.  

She reported the incident to the ship's captain, Italian Pierre Paulo Gallastroni, who told her to make a statement. She also reported the alleged crime to the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong where she was medically and physically examined.

The newspaper article states that the two security officers disembarked in Hong Kong and escaped before the police police could begin their investigation.

This case illustrates a problem in the cruise industry we have seen over the years. When crew members commit crimes, there is a conflict of interest in having shipboard security being involved in the ship's investigation. The problem is really bad when a security guard or security officer commits a crime.  Security personnel are suppose to provide law and order on cruise ships.  But cases like this illustrate the need for laws requiring independent police officers to be present on all cruise ships.

Two weeks ago we wrote about a 34 year old waiter sexually molesting an 11 year old girl on the Disney Dream while the cruise ship was at a port in Florida. But Disney Cruise Line refused to report the crime to either the local police or the FBI and then sailed to the Bahamas where it knew that the police would not do anything. Disney flew the waiter back to India rather than return him to the U.S. where he would have been arrested and prosecuted.

A trial involving the Costa case is scheduled to begin in Genoa, Italy on June 18th. Costa has some explaining to do, like why didn't the company apprehend the security officer? Why did the cruise line permit him to leave the ship? Who paid for the two men to fly back to India?

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / 663highland

Do Cruise Lines Conduct Background Checks of Crew Members?

The Florida Today newspaper published two articles today about the issue of sexual assault of passengers and whether cruise lines conduct background checks of their cruise ship employees

The issue of background checks is a rather interesting topic. But it's an issue the cruise lines hate to talk about.

Six weeks ago, I attended a workshop in Washington D.C. about sexual assault on cruise ships and on vacations outside of the U.S. A cruise line spokesman, Bud Darr, Director of the environmental and health program of the cruise industry's trade group, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), Bud Darr - Cruise Line International Association attended.  

One of the participants asked Mr. Darr (photo right) a simple question: Do the cruise lines conduct background checks of their crew members?

Mr. Darr began to stutter. He didn't answer the question. He spun his response around & around & around saying that crime is rare and other gobbledygook until the participant couldn't remember the question.

But the answer is as simple as the question: No.

Cruise lines don't vet their employees. They rely on third-party hiring agents to try and screen the applicants. In places like India and the Caribbean, the hiring agents often accept (require) money from the applicant in order to get a job on a cruise ship. There is no incentive for a hiring agent to turn down a crew member who's willing to pay a little extra to get a job.

In places like Jamaica, the applicant has to obtain a certificate from a constable certifying that the applicant has no criminal record. But there is no computerized data-base for the local police in Ocho Rios, for example, to check whether a Jamaican has committed a crime in Negril or Kingston or other places in Jamaica. After a favor from an uncle or a little pay-o-la to a policeman who's making only $250 a month, anyone can appear with a stamped I'm-not-a-crook certificate and hop aboard a cruise ship.   

We have seen hiring agents in India tell the applicants that unless they list the Four Seasons, or the Hyatt, or the Hilton as a prior job, they would not be hired as a waiter on a Celebrity cruise ship. Falsification of a resume is not only a common practice, it's often required by the cruise lines' hiring agents. 

There's no chance of screening out pedophiles or child molesters. Think your cabin attendant is carefully screened and vetted?  No country in Central America or the Far East has a social-security-type database or a drivers license number system or a sexual criminal record collection practice. If a pedophile shows up with a certificate from God-knows-who that he not a criminal, he's welcome aboard. 

The worse though is not a country like India or Nicaragua. Its the cruise lines themselves. If a crew member aboard Disney has been fired on suspicion of molesting a child, Disney won't tell Carnival or Royal Caribbean. The security personnel of the cruise lines meet every 60 days. They may discuss the risk of a jihadist terrorist attack, but they don't tell each other about pedophiles on their own cruise ship's kid's centers or rapist-employees who molest teenage girls during cruises.  

We have seen cases where a Royal Caribbean rapist who was fired after a passenger alleged rape go to work for Princess, and a Princess rapist who was fired after raping an unconscious woman later join a NCL cruise ship.

99% of crew members are honest and hard-working individuals. But there are perverts, predators and sociopaths everywhere. The problem is that cruise lines have not invested the money necessary for an effective system to weed out the criminals who will prey on unsuspecting passengers and their children. The cruise industry would rather deny that there is an issue and avoid answering honest questions about the problem. 

Trial Scheduled for Princess Cruises Crew Members Accused of Raping Woman on Grand Princess

Princess Cruises Cruise Ship RapeThe Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that two crew members employed on a Bermuda flagged cruise ship are heading for criminal trial after being accused of raping a woman.

As is often the case in Bermuda, the Bermudian press did not mention the name of the cruise line or the name of the cruise ship.  There is no prohibition from doing so, but the newspapers there seem inclined not to want to cause any embarrassment to Bermuda's U.S. based cruise line customers which register their ships in that island to avoid U.S. taxes and wage and safety laws.

The case involves two Italian crew members, age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita California. 

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013.

Trial is scheduled for April 27, 2013.

Bermuda has a sorry record of prosecuting Princess crew members when they are accused of raping women on Princess cruise ships. No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

Sex Attack Alleged On Carnival Cruise Ship

Carnival Cruise Ship RapeJust when you think that things could not get any worse for Carnival, news is just breaking that authorities are investigating what is being characterized as a "sex attack" on a Carnival cruise ship. 

A newspaper in the Bahamas is reporting that a team of of detectives from Nassau to Galveston, Texas yesterday to investigate an alleged sexual assault that occurred on a Carnival cruise ship.

The newspaper identified the cruise ship as the Triumph, which has remained in the headlines after it caught fire and had to be towed back to port.  However, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) reportedly stated that the incident did not involve the Triumph.  The BMA said that it was investigating a Bahamian registered vessel but not the Triumph. The BMA did not even acknowledge that they were investigating a cruise ship. 

The country of the Bahamas is responsible for investigating fires and collisions as well as crimes which occur on cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas.

Here's what the Bahamian newspaper is reporting: 

While the Bahamas Maritime Authority is leading the investigation into what caused the fire, detectives from the Royal Bahamas Police Force are also investigating a sexual offence claim, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday.

“We send some officers to Texas to head up the investigation. The ship is a Bahamian Flag Ship so wherever something happens we have to tend it. The officers went over there this morning and should be back sometime tomorrow. They are investigating a sexual offence matter that happened on the cruise. We should have some more information tomorrow on the matter.”

A statement is also expected from the Maritime Authority, according to London Representative Dwain Hutchinson. He said an investigation is underway and a statement will be released to the press “soon.”

Carnival flags six of its ships in the Bahamas, including the Destiny, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Sensation and the Triumph.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are one of the cruise industry's nastiest secrets.  We have attended several Congressional hearings which have studied the problem. There has been expert testimony before Congress that the risk of being raped at sea on a cruise ship is twice that of being attacked ashore.  

February 18, 2013 Update:  Carnival say that the incident but it does not appear to be related to any Carnival ships.

Alleged Rapist Arrested Aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Brian DenbyOne of the topics I harp on here at Cruise Law News is the danger of having a sexual predator sailing in the next cabin to you while you enjoy a vacation cruise.  

Cruise ships of course do not screen passengers to determine whether they are sexual predators. The local port officials and sheriff's offices can easily perform background checks like this but they usually don't bother to conduct the checks until the cruise ships are at sea and then it's too late to arrest the undesirables before they can attack someone on the cruise.   

Today we have another example of why it is prudent not to trust the friendly man who is sailing next to your family's cabin.

WSVN-7 reports today that the police arrested a 30 year old man who allegedly sexually assaulted two underage teenage girls outside a South Florida shelter.  The news station states that Brian Denby was arrested after arriving back at the Port of Miami from a cruise this morning.

Three weeks ago, according to police, Denby was walking by a shelter for victims of abuse called "Kids in Distress." After talking to two teen girls who live at the shelter, he hopped the fence sexually abused the two girls. The police released his sketch and after a tip came in the officers were able to identify Denby.

The news station reports that Denby was on vacation on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the Bahamas. When the cruise ship arrived back to the Port of Miami today, the police and federal officials boarded the ship and arrested Denby.  He is in jail in Broward County charged with several counts of lewd and lascivious battery.

Photograph courtesy of Broward County Sheriff's Office via CBS News.

 

Rape on the Love Boat? Two Crew Members Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Woman Aboard Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting that two Italian crew members age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, are charged with raping a female crew member.  Both of the men are believed to be officers.

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013, but there is no information where the cruise ship was located at the time of the alleged crime.

The remarkable thing about the story is that the crew members were actually arrested. Bermuda has been a complete joke about holding crew members legally accountable when they rape women on Grand Princess Cruise Ship Sexual AssaultPrincess cruise ships.  No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulted a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

The charges are being heard in Bermuda because Princess Cruises registers its cruise ships there to avoid U.S. taxes and labor laws.

The two men were granted bail of only $5,000 each which is not much more than a passenger has to pay for possessing a few marijuana joints aboard a cruise ship in Bermuda

The last Princess rape case ended with the alleged rapist going free.

It is doubtful that the cruise-ship-beholden island of Bermuda will ever bring justice to a cruise ship rape victim.

Stay tuned.

Leave a comment below or discuss the incident on our Facebook page.

Bad Times Aboard the Fun Ships: Passenger Alleges Rape Aboard Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

A lawsuit recently filed here in Miami illustrates the danger of cruise ship rape which most families who cruise do not realize.

The lawsuit filed last week alleges that Carnival served a young woman two margaritas, a Mojito and three double vodka drinks. Weighing only 118 pounds, the passenger was visibly intoxicated but the Carnival bartenders kept pouring drinks to the woman and her friends, one of whom was so drunk that she vomited on her.

Carnival crew members and officers were observed openly fraternizing and drinking alcohol with women in the ship's bar and disco club. The lawsuit alleges after the woman was intoxicated, two Carnival Cruise Ship - Rape - Sexual Assaultupper level Carnival ship employees, both large men, physically pinned down the wrists of the petite, small framed woman and took turns raping her. One Carnival employee sodomized her. The lawsuit states that the two men humiliated the woman and laughed at her when she resisted and protested.  

The theory of liability against Carnival is that the cruise line routinely over-serves alcohol to its passengers in order to increase profits and it does not maintain an adequate level of security to protect women on its cruise ships. While Carnival encourages excessive alcohol consumption, it does not enforce its alleged "zero tolerance" policy against crew - guest fraternization. In addition to the negligence allegations, the lawsuit asserts that the cruise lines is vicariously and strictly liable for the criminal conduct of its employees.

We first mentioned the incident last March - Was a Passenger Sexually Assaulted on the Carnival Victory?

The correlation between excessive alcohol and sexual violence against women is a topic we have discussed often here on this blog. 

Serving a young women what turns out to be 9 drinks, permitting crew members and officers to mingle with the drunk women in the disco, and providing no real security or warnings to passengers about the risk of being raped is a recipe for disaster.

Carnival nonetheless continues to aggressively advertise the sale of virtually unlimited booze. Just recently Carnival announced that it would impose a "limit" of 15 alcoholic drinks as part of its all-you-can-drink package. Of course fifteen (15) drinks is no limit at all.  

If a bar or restaurant served a woman 10 or 15 drinks and then employees of the restaurant raped the guest, the local police would probably end up arresting the bartenders and restaurant owner in addition to the employees who committed the crime. But on Carnival cruises, this seems to be part of the "fun ship" experience.

In 2006, I attended a Congressional hearing where a subcommittee listened to testimony where bartenders of Carnival-owned Costa Cruises served a 15 year old girl 10 drinks. A newspaper in Ireland wrote that in a period of 45 minutes the 15-year-old girl "was served 10 drinks in a bar on the cruise ship, two Sex on the Beach, four Woo Woos, two vodka and mixers, a shot of vodka and liqueurs." The young girl went overboard while trying to vomit over the railing. She has never been found.    

If you are a woman sailing on a cruise ship, watch how much you drink. Bartenders earn their living on tips and the food and beverage employees are under pressure to meet drink quotas. If you drink too much, stay with your friends. If you are a parent with teenage daughters, don't think that the cruise line will strictly enforce a drinking age of 21 or that it is safe to leave your children unattended. 

Convicted! Passenger Guilty of Sexually Assaulting 15 Year Old Girl on Carnival Sensation

Casey Dickerson - Carnival Cruise Sexual AssaultA jury today convicted a 32 year old man for raping a a 15-year-old girl during a Carnival cruise. The girl was raped on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship by a man identified as Casey Dickerson, who then encouraged other boys to do the same.

We reported on the crime in a prior blog article

The gang rape of a fifteen year old girl on the Carnival cruise ship received international coverage with news stations across the U.S. and even the U.K. press covering the disturbing story of how a 31 year old passenger reportedly bought alcohol for four underage boys and they took turns raping the girl during a drunken party.

The issue of whether teenage girls are safe on cruise ships is an issue which we have written about a lot lately. Consider reading: Should I Send My Daughter on a Cruise?

23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months

A court case pending in Miami contains an insight into the number of sexual assaults which occur during cruises.

The case is Jane Doe v. NCL and involves an incident where a cruise passenger alleges that she was raped in the toilet stall of a public bathroom while participating in a "Pub Crawl" on the Norwegian Sun.  A "Pub Crawl" is what I would describe as a drinking game where NCL employees take passengers to bars throughout the cruise ship where they are served booze. I mentioned the case last year.  

The federal district court judge just entered a number of orders in the case which are of interest.

Norwegian Sun Cruise Ship - Sexual AssaultNCL filed a motion arguing that it owed no obligation to warn its guests of the risk of being raped on the high seas. The court rejected the cruise line's argument.

The court pointed to the fact that there were 23 allegations of sexual assault on NCL cruise ships for the 15 month period before the incident (January 2010 to April 2011). The history of prior sexual crimes on NCL's fleet of cruise ships raised the issue whether the rape on the Norwegian Sun was foreseeable which, the court held, is an issue for the jury at trial.

NCL also argued that it had no duty not to over-serve passengers alcohol during cruises.  The federal court also rejected this argument. The court adopted the holding of a state court case, Hall v. Royal Caribbean, where a state appellate court ruled that cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol beyond the point of intoxication.

The security report on this case concluded that the passenger was "extremely intoxicated." 

Last week, I mentioned that NCL just adopted a "all you can drink" alcohol policy for $49 a day.  In our experiences there is a direct correlation between too much cruise booze and sexual assaults. 

The passenger in the NCL case is being represented by Miami maritime lawyer Keith Brais who posted copies of the court orders on line here and here.

NCL is being defended by Miami lawyer Curtis Mase.  Mr. Mase was involved in a highly publicized case in 1999 where a trial court ordered Carnival to reveal the number of sexual assaults against cruise ship passengers. This was the first time a cruise line had to reveal the extent of shipboard crimes.

Carnival disclosed that there were 62 incidents on its cruise ships for a five year period.  Two weeks later, the New York Times reported that Carnival located another 46 incidents and raised the tally to 108 incidents of sexual misconduct over the preceding 5 years. 

Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault

Millinnium Cruise Ship  -Sexual Assault Last Friday, I wrote an article about a cruise ship incident where a passenger reported that a Celebrity Cruises crew member "indecently assaulted" her aboard the Celebrity Cruises' Millennium cruise ship as it sailed from Fiji to New Zealand. 

The cruise ship arrived early in the morning on Friday and was scheduled to depart later the afternoon of the same day. 

In my article, I mentioned that in our experience, rape cases involving women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the criminal courts.

One of the problems is that crimes on the high seas fall into a jurisdictional "no-man's land." The Celebrity cruise ship flies the flag of Malta, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The alleged rape reportedly occurred in the waters of Fiji.  The nationality of the alleged perpetrator and victim are unknown, but they are probably not citizens of New Zealand which was conducting the investigation.    

Today, we learn that the local police in New Zealand declined to arrest anyone. A newspaper in New Zealand states that a police detective involved in the investigation cited, as one of other factors, "jurisdiction" as one factor in declining the case for prosecution.  Unless the cruise ship was flagged in New Zealand, or the assailant or victim were a citizen of New Zealand, or the alleged crime occurred in its waters, New Zealand would have no jurisdiction over the incident. 

The police detective said that there was "insufficient evidence" for a prosecution which is the usual type of comment we hear in cases like this.  The detective did not cite exactly what other factors may have played a part in declining the case, but he made disturbing comments about making certain that the cruise ship kept its scheduled itinerary.

Recognizing that the the Millennium was due to sail to at 4:15 PM last Friday afternoon, the detective pointed out that the cruise ship sailed on time: “We were aware of those tight time lines and our team got right into it from the first opportunity, and it wasn’t held up at all.”  This is interesting because an earlier account of the story said that the cruise ship captain didn't notify the local police of the alleged sexual assault until after the cruise ship arrived in port. How do you assemble a forensic team, conduct multiple interviews, administer polygraph tests, look for trace evidence, review video tape surveillance, conduct medical and laboratory tests and get your team off the ship for a timely 4:15 PM departure?  

Why should a professional law enforcement care about boat schedules when the vessel contains an alleged crime scene? 

One of the criticism of cruise ship crimes investigations is that the investigating law authorities are Jim Walker - Dr. Henry Less - Cruise Crime Scene Investigationdeferential to the cruise ship schedule and rush their investigations. Some suggest that local ports are afraid to jeopardize their relationship with large cruise lines by delaying a cruise ship's departure from port. Anger a large cruise line and you run the risk that it will drop your port like a hot potato. Unfortunately, crimes on cruise ships literally involve a moving crime scene that is often compromised due to the cruise line's business interests.

In the infamous case of honeymoon groom George Smith who "disappeared" from the Brilliance of the Seas under disturbing circumstances (we represented his widow in litigation against the cruise line), the local police investigation was so rushed that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship actually left the Turkish port of Kusadasi 45 minutes ahead of schedule

Later, I hired Dr. Henry Lee who assembled a team of nine forensic investigators, video and photography experts and detectives. When we boarded the cruise ship to inspect the Smith's cabin and balcony, the cruise line placed us under substantial time pressure not to interrupt the cruise ship's scheduled itinerary.    

 

Photo:

Top: Bay of Plenty Times

Bottom: MSNBC

Passenger Reports Sexual Assault By Crew Member Aboard Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship

Tauranga New Zealand - Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship - FijiA New Zealand newspaper reports that the police in the port city of Tauranga are investigating sexual assault allegations made against a crew member of the Millennium cruise ship which docked at the port yesterday morning after sailing from Fiji.

Police state a woman in her late 40's or early 50's accuses one of the crew members of the Celebrity Cruises ship of "indecently assaulting her" while the cruise ship was in Fiji waters.

Police state that the passenger alerted the ship’s captain who then informed Tauranga Police once the ship docked at the port in New Zealand.

The newspaper reports that "police are looking into the matter."

Cruise ship rapes are one of the problems which cruise lines try and keep secret.  

A decade ago, we represented a victim of a rape which occurred on this cruise ship. In our experience, the rape of women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the civil courts. Behind the scenes, cruise lines work to defend their employees and build a case against the victims. 

In the civil courts, cruise lines are strictly liable when their employees sexually assault passengers on the high seas.  

November 18, 2012 update: No Surpirse - New Zealand declines to make arrest: "Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault"

 

Photo credit: Sun Live 

Leader of Carnival Cruise Gang Rape Indicted

A federal grand jury indicted a Florida man arrested for participating in and encouraging the gang rape of a 15 year old girl on a Carnival cruise ship last month. The grand jury indicted Casey Dickerson on sexual abuse charges Wednesday for engaging in the rape of a girl in a cabin on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship.

The victim told the FBI that she and a friend went to Dickerson's cabin with him and four other boys. She said that Dickerson and the boys held her down and took turns raping her. 

Dickerson denies the charges but said he was drunk and didn't know when anything got "sexual." 

This is a case we have blogged about before here and here and here.  

The case demonstrates the danger of free flowing cruise booze and the danger to minors of sexual assault on cruise ships.

The good thing, if there is such a thing, about this case is that the FBI actually made an arrest and there will be a federal prosecution - which is rare.

Casey Dickerson - Carnival Sensation Cruise Ship Gang Rape

Photo credit: FanDaily

Does Carnival Warn Passengers of the Danger of Sexual Assault in the Cayman Islands?

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about the police in the Cayman Islands making an arrest of a local man who allegedly sexually assaulted a cruise passenger who was visiting the island.

The newspaper article that my blog was based on was very vague and mentioned only that the alleged rape occurred on July 27th and the arrest occurred some three weeks later.  It took almost a month later after the arrest before the newspapers in the Caymans covered the story.  There still is no mention of where the incident occurred other than "in the George Town area."  

A reader of my blog alerted me that an article from another media source in the Cayman Carnival Elation Cruise Ship - Cayman Islands - Sexual Assault Islands, Cayman News Service, contained a bit more information. The article "Visitor Sexually Assaulted" states that the only cruise ship in the Cayman Islands was the Carnival Elation and the cruise passenger was a "teenage visitor (who) was assaulted during an onshore tour."

There are some interesting comments to the article written, presumably, by people in the Cayman Islands.  The first two comments are "Been here 30 years. Not new" and "Alot of rapes happen here and not reported or covered up."  

Other comments raise the issue why this crime was not reported earlier and why the police is not disclosing exactly where it occurred. I find it fascinating that the police did not disclose the name of the cruise ship, and it was only by deduction that the Cayman News Service figured out that the victim was from a Carnival cruise ship.

Last week I wrote an article about a case we are handling where a federal appellate court re-instated a lawsuit against Carnival arising out of its failure to warn a family of dangers ashore in St. Thomas leading to the shooting death of their 14 year old daughter.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeal held that cruise lines like Carnival owe a duty to warn passengers of crime in ports of call that they are aware of or should be aware of. 

Crime in the Caribbean islands is a problem. Cruise lines promote the ports of call as tropical paradises. Passengers who are lured into the world of cruise fantasies often lower their guard. Cruise lines and the tourism bureaus in the islands are notorious for covering up crimes so as not to hurt their business. 

Did the alleged rape in the Cayman Islands occur during an excursion advertised and sold by Carnival? Has the cruise line warned other families of the crime over the course of the last two months?  Are other cruise lines which unload passengers in the Caymans warning their guests?

 

Photo credit: Jim Walker

Police in Cayman Islands Investigating Sexual Assault of Cruise Ship Passenger

Cayman Islands - Cruise Ship A newspaper in the Cayman Islands is reporting that the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is investigating a reported sexual attack on a female cruise ship passenger.

The incident happened on Friday July 27, 2012 according to the local police in the Cayman Islands. The newspaper account is very vague. The newspaper states only that the incident involved a female cruise passenger "in the George Town area" that led to the arrest of a 43 year old man on August 18, 2012 on suspicion of attempted rape.  No charges have been filed and the suspect was reportedly released on bail. 

The newspaper states that the incident "was not proactively reported by the police service."

The newspaper did not identify the name of the cruise line or the cruise ship.  This is quite common in the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean countries which do not wish to cause embarrassment to the cruise lines which call on their ports.  

If anyone knows which cruise ships were in the Cayman Islands on July 27, 2012 please leave a comment below.

April 29 2014 Update: A Caymans newspaper states that Shawn Mourao, 45, the owner of Cayman Shaun Mourao Caymans RapeStyle Ocean Adventures, was charged with three counts of indecent assault in the case and is the subject of an Interpol warrant seeking his arrest after he failed to appear in court and fled the Caymans. He is believed to be in South Africa.

The woman was a Carnival cruise ship passenger who had booked a seven-day “Exotic Western Caribbean Cruise” that included stops in Mexico, Belize, Roatan and Grand Cayman. She paid $79.99 for a “beach party and snorkeling shore excursion” in Cayman. Cayman Style Ocean Adventures was the tour operator that provided the tour for Carnival. 

The newspaper states that woman went on the excursion around 1 p.m. on July 27, 2012, and returned at 4:30 p.m. to George Town harbor. She asked the tour boat captain where she might find a restroom. He led her to a small room in nearby shopping center where she was assaulted. The woman repeated pleas for the suspect to stop, and she eventually escaped, running off half-naked to find her friend with whom she was on the cruise.   

In addition to the owner fleeing the jurisdiction, the tour operator in the Caymans dissolved as well apparently to avoid legal liability for the rape.

Headline News: "Horror on the High Seas: Rape Alleged on Cruise"

Last night HLN reported on the highly publicized sexual assault incident on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship.  A 15 year old girl alleges that she was gang-raped inside a cabin during a Caribbean cruise. A 31 year old man allegedly encouraged two underage boys to join him in sexually assaulting the girl. 

Jim Moret interviews our former client, Laurie Dishman, who is a sexual assault survivor and the Senior Vice President of the International Cruise Victims ("ICV").

Ms. Dishman states in the video that Carnival's all-you-can-drink booze package is dangerous in an environment where there is minimal security and excessive drinking. The suspect in this latest rape case reportedly provided alcohol to the boys who committed the rape.

 

Cruise Ship Rape: International Cruise Victims' Vice President Advocates For Cruise Ship Rape Victims

Tonight CNN's Headline News ("HLN") featured  an interview with the Senior Vice President of the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") regarding the latest cruise rape story involving a thirty-one year old man who participated in and encouraged the gang rape of a fifteen year old victim aboard a Carnival cruise ship.   

ICV VP Laurie Dishman appeared tonight on the CNN channel discussing her personal experience as a rape victim on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship when a part time security guard sexually assaulted Cruise Ship Rape her while she was cruising with Michelle, her best friend since she was five years old.

The crime was particularly brutal and the response by the rapist's employer, Royal Caribbean Cruises, was especially irresponsible. You can read Laurie's story at the website of the ICV here.

Laurie hired me to represent her. Laurie is the most motivated and strongest woman, scratch that - person, I have ever met.  She told me that her goal was to convene a hearing on her case to bring awareness to the problem of cruise ship sexual assaults.  She wanted a law to be passed to protect other cruise passengers.  

She also instructed me to take Royal Caribbean to the task. Not to be modest, but Laurie and I kicked the living crap out of the cruise line. She obtained the highest recovery against a cruise line to date for a sexual assault. Incidentally, there were several Congressional hearings held which discussed Laurie's case and she met with President Obama to discuss the problem rapes on cruise ships. A new cruise safety law, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act, was passed largely due to her efforts and her friends in the ICV.  After all, she traveled over 30 times at her own expense to lobby Congress to pass the much needed law to protect cruise passengers.  

Laurie and I (and my wife and kids) became best friends in the process of our several years of litigating against Royal Caribbean and attending hearings in Washington D.C. about crimes on cruise ships.

Laurie has taken her cause to the public as the Vice President of the ICV to educate the public Cruise Ship Rape - Sexual Assaultabout cruise ship crimes.

Tonight it was energizing to see Laurie on CNN explaining the danger of cruise ship rape to the public in the latest incident of an adult buying huge amounts of alcohol for underage boys who participated in the gang rape of the 10th grade child on the Carnival cruise ship. Laurie pointed out that on the day the story broke about the booze fueled gang rape, Carnival announced it all-you-can-drink booze package.  

For $50 a day, you can drink till you puke, or until your posse rapes someone (my editorial, not Laurie's)

You will continue to see Laurie at a national level speaking out for crime victims.  

Thanks Laurie for advocating for the cruising public!

Royal Caribbean Smears Crime Victim & Gets Cozumel Rape Lawsuit Thrown Out Before Trial

A trial scheduled this month involving a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger who alleges she was gang-raped while ashore in Cozumel was averted when the federal court judge granted a motion filed by the cruise line to end the case.

The order granting Royal Caribbean's motion was posted on line by Leagle yesterday and can be read here

The case involved a young woman from Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas who was shopping in an area recommended by the cruise line. Royal Caribbean derives many millions of dollars in income when cruise passengers shop Oasis of the Seas - Cozumel Mexicoat the cruise-line-recommended stores.   

The passenger left the ship and went to a shopping areas which Royal Caribbean recommends. After walking a few blocks down the main strip to a store called "Viva Mexico," the passenger turned around and subsequently encountered a man selling jewelry from a cart. The cruise line literature does not mention shopping cart vendors.  

The man with the jewelry cart told her that he had other jewelry in his store and led her to a store not identified on the cruise line map but under the same roof of other cruise-advertised stores. The man then pushed her down a hallway and into a restroom where he forced her to perform oral sex on him. Four additional Mexican men then raped her orally and vaginally.

The victim hired lawyers here in Miami who sued Royal Caribbean for failing to warn her of the danger of sexual assault in Cozumel and recommending a shopping area where she was raped.

Royal Caribbean moved to end the case arguing that it had no duty to warn of dangers ashore off of the cruise ship - an argument the court quickly rejected.

The cruise line then argued that it had taken millions of passengers to the port of Cozumel but it was unaware of instances of sexual assault or violent crime specifically involving Royal Caribbean passengers or crew members in the shopping area depicted on the map or in Cozumel.

The court held that the case could not proceed without such evidence.  The ruling is rather strange because there was no showing by the cruise line that it was unaware of rapes and violence against women other than passengers and crew in the shopping area and in Cozumel in general. When the victim's lawyer served subpoenas on the other major cruise lines (Carnival, NCL, etc.) to obtain evidence of how many other cruise line passengers and crew were crimes victims in Cozumel, all of the cruise lines objected.     

The court also essentially ignored affidavits submitted by the victim's lawyers that there were other violent assaults in the area and crew members are aware of the dangers ashore in Cozumel and tell their supervisors, but the cruise line keeps the passengers in the dark.

The court also gave little weight to evidence submitted that to monitor security risks in places to which Royal Caribbean directs its passengers to in Cozumel, Royal Caribbean relies on United States State Department travel warnings, reports from its passengers and crew, the local police, and its port agent.

Just last week in a case involving a Royal Caribbean passenger who alleges she was raped at Senor Frog's in Cozumel, the local press reported that there were 7 cases of rape in the preceding six months.  If Royal Caribbean claims that it didn't know of rapes in Cozumel, the cruise line is not doing a good job of staying informed of the crime in this Mexican port where it takes its guests and encourages them to shop ashore.

In addition, two travel warnings issued by the State Department were in existence at the time of the gang rape, which refer to Cozumel, rape, and sexual assault as a "serious problem" in resort areas. 

The disturbing thing about the case is that Royal Caribbean went to great lengths to argue that before the rape, the young woman allegedly attempted to purchase "illegal drugs" while she was ashore shopping.  Legally, it is irrelevant to the cruise line's duty to warn whether the passenger was previously trying to buy pot or some other "drug." No woman deserves to be raped - regardless of whether they are looking to smoke reefer, drink a pitcher of margaritas, or buy some over-priced jewelry in Cozumel.

Unfortunately this is one of the tactics cruise lines use to destroy the credibility of women raped on cruise ships and in ports of call.    

This is a case certain to go on appeal, and may be reversed by the appellate court. 

 

Photo credit:  Fotki / Mark Chatfield

Rape of 15 Year Old Girl Is Latest Crime Against Children on Carnival Cruises

Casey Dickerson - Carnival Cruise Rape AllegationThe alleged gang rape of a fifteen year old girl on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship has received international coverage with news stations across the U.S. and even the U.K. press covering the disturbing story of how a 31 year old passenger reportedly bought alcohol for four underage boys and they took turns raping the girl during a drunken party.

The alleged adult rapist reportedly has a criminal record as reported by another website which contains unflattering photographs of the suspect (left). 

The story of the rape broke on the same day that Carnival stated that it would start introducing $50 a day "all-you-can-drink" booze packages on its cruise ships.

As we have learned by handling numerous rape cases on cruise ships, there is a direct correlation between lots of cruise booze and violence against women and children.  Its a real problem considering there are no independent police officers on cruise ships and the few security guards cannot effectively handle the problem.

A newspaper in Australia quoted me yesterday saying: ". . . we see a direct correlation between excess alcohol and fights in bars, drunken underage girls, sexual violence . . . dealing with drunken violence on cruise ship is a challenge as there are no police officers on board and security staff are often stretched to the limit. Encouraging more people to drink more alcohol . . . will lead to more crimes during cruises."

If you have any doubt that there is a problem with children being raped on cruise ships, click on the "sexual assault of minors" or "rape" categories to the left.  Most sexual assault cases are not reported because the cruise lines typically require the victims and their parents to sign confidentiality agreements. Carnival Cruise Ship RapeBut one 16 year old girl, raped by a crew member on a Carnival cruise, refused to sign her rights away.

She had the strength to speak about her rape on ABC NEWS' Nightline program "Sex Crimes on Cruise Ships."

Unfortunately, the Carnival rapist (right) was sentenced to only 37 months in jail, whereas the child has to deal with the trauma for the rest of her life.

Watch the video, which also features two clients of our firm testifying before our U.S. Congress about being raped on cruise ships. The cruise line rapists in those cases were not even prosecuted.  

 

Photo credit:

Top: FanDaily

Bottom: US Attorneys Office

15 Year Old Girl Alleges Gang Rape on Carnival Sensation

 A local news station in central Florida is reporting that a 15 year old cruise passenger alleges that she was gang raped by other passengers while cruising aboard the Carnival Sensation cruise ship.

WFTV reports that one of their news reporters interviewed a man who was arrested for allegedly raping a a 15-year-old girl during a Carnival cruise. The news station reports that "investigators said the girl was raped on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship by the man who then encouraged other attackers to do the same."

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the teenage victim stated  that she and another friend, also 15, went to 31 year old Casey Dickerson's cabin with him and four other boys.

The newspaper states that once in the cabin, the girl said, Dickerson and the boys held her down and took turns having sex with her. 

At the same time, the victim's teenage friend was being held in the bathroom by one of the boys.

As Dickerson and the others sexually assaulted the victim, they told each other to "switch," so that they would change positions.

The girl said someone knocked on the door while she was being attacked and one of the boys answered it.

The girl said she was on the floor of the cabin, wearing only a bra, and after the person who knocked at the door left, Dickerson and the boys continued their sexual attacks, the complaint says.

The WFTV reporter, Jeff Deal, talked with the suspect, Dickerson, in jail. Dickerson denied raping anyone.

Carnival Cruise  Rape Allegation"According to investigators, a group of underage people asked Dickerson to buy them alcohol.

'You admit you bought alcohol for them?' Deal asked.

'I admit I bought alcohol,' said Dickerson.

Dickerson had access to two rooms because his wife had complained about noise early on in the cruise. Carnival gave them keys to a second room.

Investigators said the group started partying in the first room and that's where the 15-year-old claims she was essentially gang-raped.

Investigators said the girl first claims Dickerson raped her and then two underage boys raped her too.

Investigators said the boys said Dickerson told them to do it.

During the interview, Dickerson claimed he didn't know the age of the young people . . and when we pressed him on the rape allegations he suddenly decided to end the interview." 

 

Photo credit: WFTV

Court Rejects Carnival's Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Sexually Assaulted Girl

Yesterday a federal judge in Miami rejected a motion filed by Carnival Corporation seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of young girl who was sexually assaulted on a Carnival cruise ship.   

The case involved a nine year old girl who was raped on Carnival's Destiny cruise ship. The case is a reminder that sexual assaults against children occur during cruises, even when the children are entrusted to youth counselors on cruise ships. The case also shows how far cruise lines like Carnival will go to avoid legal responsibility when crimes occur during cruises.

The allegations against Carnival in this case were described as follows:

At the age of nine, the child took a cruise aboard Carnival’s Destiny cruise ship. She was accompanied on this cruise by several family members. During the cruise, and at a Carnival employee’s encouragement, the child's father signed her into a shipboard children’s program (“Camp Carnival”). The father told Camp Carnival personnel that his daughter was to stay with them until he returned for her. However, when the little girl asked for permission from the Camp Carnival staff member to attend a teen party with her cousin and friends, the staff member permitted her to go. After leaving Camp Carnival, the girl was physically and sexually assaulted.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on Carnival’s part in the false advertising of Camp Carnival, the failure to implement appropriate safety precautions, and the refusal to warn the child's parents of the numerous sexual assaults of passengers, including minors, during cruises.

The mother hired a lawyer in Florida and filed a lawsuit within three years of the rape.

Under federal maritime law, lawsuits involving minors must be filed within three years after the injury, or within one year from the date a legal representative is appointed for the minor (whichever date is shorter). 

Even though the lawsuit was timely filed both within three years of the rape and within one year since the mother was appointed as the child's legal guardian, Carnival moved to dismiss the case as "untimely." Carnival made a technical argument that the one year limitations period began to run when the mother learned of the crime or, alternatively, within one year after the mother retained a lawyer and the attorney sent a claim letter to Carnival. 

The Court rejected Carnival's argument and permitted the case to continue.

The child is represented by David Brill who is a skilled trial lawyer who represents crew members and passengers against cruise lines.

The motion to dismiss the child's case was filed by defense lawyer Lauren DeFabio of the Mase, Lara law firm.

 

Photo credit:  Maxum255 / Wikipedia

Lawsuit: Royal Caribbean Crew Member Rapes Cruise Passenger Aboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas - Surveillance Camera Shows Victim Trying to Escape

The Miami Herald reports that a Royal Caribbean crew member sexually assaulted a passenger during a New Year’s cruise according to the allegation in a lawsuit filed last week.  The newspaper reports that the sex attack was partially captured on surveillance video.

The woman was attacked on January 1, 2012 while cruising aboard the Navigator of the Seas during an Eastern Caribbean cruise. 

The Herald explains that on the morning of the attack, the victim had gone to an upper-level deck to use a whirlpool. She then asked a crew member for a towel, and he led her into a bathroom, where he assaulted her.  The cruise ship's CCTV surveillance video captured images of the victim trying to Navigator of the Seas - Rape - Cruise Shipescape, only to be dragged back in to the room. 

The woman slipped away and reported the attack to ship security.

The woman's lawyer told the newspaper that he believes that Royal Caribbean's security officers took the man into custody and "kicked him off the ship at the next overseas port."

“This is a problem in the cruise industry and if the company cared, it wouldn’t just turn this guy loose in the nearest port. You need to cooperate with the victim and assist in bringing him to the proper authorities.”

The cruise line claims that it reported the incident to the FBI and local law enforcement in St. Kitts.

As we have mentioned in many other article, the FBI has a terrible record investigating cruise ship rapes. 95% of FBI investigation go nowhere and the alleged crew member rapists go free - often ending up working for a different cruise line after spending a few months at home.

Earlier today we reported on the rape of a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger in Cozumel.

Last month we reported on the rape of a passenger by a crew member aboard the Equinox, operated by Royal Caribbean's sister company Celebrity Cruises.  CNN aired a special Predators at Sea about a Royal Caribbean crew member raping a fifteen year old child. 

In March we discussed the sexual abuse of a minor aboard the Enchantment of the Seas.  

Literally hundreds of women and children have alleged being sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships over the past decade. We have attended 7 Congressional hearings since December 2005 which have studied the issue of cruise passenger safety.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean typically under-report the actual number of crimes which occur during cruises. For example, in 2006, Royal Caribbean told Congress that 66 rapes and sexual assaults occurred over the course of the preceding three years - that's 3 rapes every 2 month just on the Royal Caribbean fleet. However, in a subsequent civil case our firm handled against this cruise line, a trial court here in Miami ordered the cruise line to produce its raw crime data to us. The reports revealed that the total number of rapes, sexual assaults and sex-crimes related incidents were actually around 273 (over 4 times the amount reported to Congress).

The Los Angeles Times covered the story in an article entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters."

Royal Caribbean Passenger Reports Rape at Senor Frog's in Cozumel

A newspaper in Mexico and cruise expert Professor Ross Klein report that a young woman from Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas cruise ship was apparently drugged and sexually assaulted by employees of Senor Frog's in Cozumel, Mexico last Friday, August 10, 2012.

The article states that the woman (reportedly around 19-20 years of age) was cruising on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship which called on Cozumel. Her family went on a tour and ended up at Senor Frog's which is a popular bar frequented by cruise passengers and other tourists. The newspaper explains that the young woman and other family members drank and she danced with one of the employees who worked Senor Frogs Cozumelwith several other men as disc jockeys (DJ's).  

The young woman ended up being invited into the DJ's "cabin," an enclosed area of the restaurant from where music is played. The DJ's gave her a drink and she thereafter lost track of things but just remembers vague images of the four men attacking her and trying to fight them off. 

The circumstances were particularly brutal with reports that other employees went into the booth to watch, and some men were beating the victim.  

She was taken back to the cruise ship and experienced pain and burning in her genital area and had bruises on her body.  Her family decided to leave the cruise and stay on the island to report the incident to the Mexican police. 

Another newspaper reports that the four Senor Frog employees were taken to a local magistrate who promptly released them. We are not referring to this newspaper because it mentions the victim's name. The newspaper also indicates that police records indicate that from January to June 2012 there were seven complaints of rape.  It is less than clear whether the article refers to the bar or Cozumel.  Women raped in Mexico rarely obtain justice.

This is not the first report of rape of a cruise passenger in Cozumel or the first rape of a Royal Caribbean passenger who went to a Senor Frog's during a cruise.

In June, we mentioned a lawsuit filed against Royal Caribbean arising out of a gang rape of a young woman in Cozumel from the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas.  The cruise line provided the passenger with a map of the shopping locations recommended by Royal Caribbean. A gang of men brutally raped the young woman while she visited one of the recommended stores.

Royal Caribbean does not warn cruise passengers of the danger of being sexually assaulted or violently attacked in Cozumel.  Cozumel is one of the few ports capable of accommodating the Genesis project ships like the Allure and the Oasis and it is my opinion that the cruise line doesn't want to scare anyone off from traveling to this Mexican port.

Last year a young woman from Poland, working aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas, was murdered while ashore in Cozumel.  

Royal Caribbean knows that bars ashore in ports of call present dangers of date rape drugs and sexual assault. 

Last year a Royal Caribbean passenger was raped and severely beaten after drinking at a Senor Frog's in Nassau.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Cruise Ship - Sexual AssaultCruise lines have an obligation to warn of dangers ashore in the ports of call that they sail to and where there guests are reasonably likely to frequent such as local bars near the cruise ships.  

Royal Caribbean in particular, acknowledges that it has a duty to inform cruise passengers of dangers like this. The cruise industry publication 'World Cruise Industry Review" interviewed the head of "Global Security" at Royal Caribbean, Gary Bald, about the cruise line's obligation to warn cruise passengers of dangers in ports of call.  In an article entitled "Safe Harbor," Mr. Bald stated that as far as looking for dangers to passengers in ports of call, "I’m locked in and tuned in around the clock, 24/7.”   

The article states that "Bald is happy to share security information with both the crew and the passengers. “All guests are my responsibility,” he says, “and I don’t want some more prepared than others.” 

It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Bald and his cruise line warned this latest victim and her family about the prior rapes and attacks in Cozumel and other Royal Caribbean ports of call.  

 

Photo credit: Top: Senor Frog's - Julián Miranda/SIPSE; bottom - Wikipedia / Andres Manuel Rodriguez

Secrets on the High Seas - Rape of Houston Passenger Reveals Flaws in Cruise Crime Reporting

A local news station in Houston, Texas reports that there are problems with the manner that crimes on cruise ships are reported and investigated by the FBI.

KRPC Channel 2 in Houston aired a program yesterday that reported on the rape of a 56 year old Texas woman on at the last night of a cruise out of the port of Houston (Galveston).  Like most rape cases on cruises, the FBI did not make an arrest.

The investigation by the news station revealed that the FBI disclosed that it investigated only 16 crimes all of last year.  But the crime numbers "just don't add up," according to the news station. (We know that this is a bogus number of crimes because in years past, there has been testimony before Congress tCarnival Cruise Ship - Rape - Sexual Assaulthat hundreds of crimes occur each year during cruises).  

The interesting thing revealed in this report was that the Port of Houston alone had 15 crimes reported just out of its port, so clearly the FBI's data of 16 cruise crimes for all cruises nationally is grossly understated.

This particular case involved an allegation that a cruise line employee (waiter) committed the rape.  In our experience most shipboard rapes are committed by cruise employees with waiters, as well as cabin attendants and bartenders, the most likely ones to rape a passenger.

Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") organization was interviewed during the program and stated: "True and accurate crime data needs to be available and released to the public . . .  it is the cornerstone of accountability and safety for millions of Americans who chose to cruise each year."

But the cruise industry's organization that promotes cruising, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), says that everything's just fine. CLIA responded to the program by claiming that cruise lines have been reporting crimes pursuant to a law passed in 1996.  This is a false statement as the first law requiring the reporting of crimes during cruises was not passed until 2010.  But due to intense lobbying, the law was altered and permits the cruise lines to hide crimes unless the crimes were first reported to the FBI and then closed by the FBI.  

The wording of the law permits over 95% of cruise ship crimes to remain secret - just like the cruise lines want.  

Cruise lines have been hiding true crime statistics for decades. You will see more and more of these types of stories in the future.

To watch the video, click on the link here.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia

British Cruise Passenger: Crew Member Raped Me on the Celebrity Equinox

The U.K.'s Mail Online reports today that a 27 year old British passenger alleges that a Celebrity Cruises ship employee raped her in her cabin aboard the Celebrity Equinox.

The article reports that the crew member, believed to be working on the cruise ship in the entertainment department, met the passenger in a bar and spent several hours drinking with her.  He then allegedly followed her back to her cabin where he raped her.  The articles states that although she said she was tired and going to bed, the crew employee attacked her. 

The Celebrity Equinox had left the Italian port of Civitavecchia and the arrest came some 17 hours later.

Rape Aboard Celebrity Equinox cruise ShipThe arrest took place after ship video showed the crew member and passenger in the bar, with him then following her back to her cabin. 

The woman was seen by a doctor on board the ship.

Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, has not made a comment to date about this alleged crime. 

The last rape aboard the Celebrity Equinox we reported on was last September - Perfume Sales Assistant Alleges Rape Aboard the Celebrity Equinox

As we mentioned in our prior article, Celebrity and its parent company Royal Caribbean have known about the high rate of sexual assaults on cruise ships for over a decade.  

In 1999, Royal Caribbean hired two top notch firms to study the problem of sexual assaults on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships. The cruise line retained a consulting firm called "Sheridan, Swailes" to study the company's security systems. Royal Caribbean also retained a nationally recognized expert on sexual harassment issues, Dr. Kay Krohne, who previously was a commanding officer at the Naval Training Station in San Diego.

After conducting an extensive analysis of the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet, these experts concluded that sexual misconduct occurred "frequently" during cruises. They attributed this problem to the fact that most crew members were not afraid of being arrested, much less convicted.  

Unfortunately, Celebrity Cruises does not warn its guests of the history of men attacking women during cruises.

Women on cruise ships need to be aware of the danger of rape by crew members, especially after drinking alcohol.

 

July 20, 2012 Update: We were informed that the crew member who allegedly raped the passenger was an IT employee. 

July 21, 2012 Update: A newspaper in Italy identified the alleged rapist as an American. 

Cruise Crime Debate Continues

The recent articles about the FBI assisting the cruise lines in covering up ship crimes has sparked a re-newed interest in the safety of cruise passengers on the high seas.

Fox News published an article this morning "How Safe Is Your Cruise Ship" mentioning the cruise lines' talking points that cruise ship crime is "extremely rare."  For a different point of view, Fox News interviewed cruise expert Ross Klein who has testified before Congress that a cruise passenger "is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise ship than on land."

Fox News also mentioned our law firm's experiences representing cruise sexual assault victims, including children.

The debate whether cruise ship crime today is "rare" or "routine" consists essentially of opinions without a quantitative foundation because the FBI is hiding the actual crime statistics from the public, as Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims Organization discusses in the video below.

It should be up to the public, not a corporation with a conflict of interest, to determine exactly what is "rare" or "routine" based on the actual crimes statistics which are currently being hidden. .

 

Sexually Assaulted On A Cruise Ship? Call Cruise Law in Miami.

There has been a lot of news lately about cruise ship disasters, like ship fires, groundings and sinkings. But the most likely danger that a passenger, woman or child, faces during a cruise is rape.

Cruise ships are essentially floating cities.  Increasingly larger floating cities at that. Like any city, a cruise ship has crime.  Over the past decade the most likely crime on a cruise ship we have seen is rape.

Cruise lines deny that rapes occur frequently.  Just two days ago the cruise lines issued a PR release Cruise Ship Crime - Rape - Sexual Assaultstating that cruising is "absolutely safe." This is part of the problem.  The cruise lines are so motivated to portray an image of an "absolutely safe" vacation experience that they will go to great lengths to protect that marketing image, including cleaning crime scenes and covering the crimes up.

A decade ago, we obtained a confidential internal study (pursuant to a court order) in which one cruise line concluded that sexual crimes occurred "routinely" in its fleet of cruise ships.  It then embarked on a campaign of representing to the public that such crimes were "rare."

During a series of Congressional hearings several years ago, the same cruise line told Congress that it had 66 rapes over a period of 3 years, for an average of 22 rapes a year.  But during a court case, a trial court in Miami ordered the cruise to to produce its internal documents which revealed the truth - the cruise line actually 273 incidents of sexual assault, harassment and "inappropriate sexual touching."

All of the major cruise lines track sexual crimes and know that there are hundreds of incidents of sexual assault and battery each year during cruises.   

Walker & O'Neill maritime lawyers in Miami handle cases exclusively cases against cruise lines.

Our firm has handled many sexual assault cases and molestation cases involving against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

In the cases we have handled, the shipboard rapes were committed by a wide variety of cruise employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor.  The sexual assaults occurred in various locations on the cruise ship, with the most common locations being the passenger cabin, storage room, and crew bathroom.  The most likely assailant?  A male cabin steward from a country outside of the U.S. where it is impossible to conduct a meaningful background check.

Don't expect the cruise lines to be your friend.  They will take the side of their employees every time. And for a number of reasons, law enforcement, especially the FBI, has a terrible record of prosecuting crimes which occur on the high seas.   

Jim Walker - Walker & O'Neill Maritime Lawyers - Cruise LawJim Walker and Lisa O'Neill are both cum laude graduates from Duke University where they met 34 years ago. Jim attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans and has practiced maritime law since 1983. Lisa was a member of law review at the University of Florida Law School and has practiced law since 1985.

Jim and Lisa have represented several sexual assault cruise victims who testified before our U.S. Congress.  These women were assaulted by a bartender, a part-time security guard and even a diving instructor during a cruise sponsored excursion.  

Examples of settlements for cruise ship rape and molestation we obtained include: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $1,000,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000 and $250,000. (All cases are different, depending on the facts.  These settlements may not be reflective of the reasonable compensation in your case).

Here are what people are saying about Jim:

"Top Maritime Lawyer" - ABA Journal.

"Top Cruise Lawyer" - USA Today.

"Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" - Fox News.

"Prominent Cruise Plaintiff Attorney" - Law.com (America Law Media).

If you or your child were assaulted during a cruise, don't hire a lawyer who practices "cruise law" on a part time basis. Contact the Cruise Law attorneys in Miami and let us be your advocates.

If you have a situation to discuss, email us right away: jim@cruiselaw.com or call our toll free number for a free and confidential consultation: 1 800 256-1518.

 

Photo credits:  Carnival cruise ship at Government Cut, Miami - Jim Walker 

Suspect Pleads Guilty of Raping Minor on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rape - Sexual Assault A 20 year old Brazilian man pled guilty this week to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in the rape of a 15 year old girl on the last night day of a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry sentenced Luiz Scavone to one year in jail and declared him a sexual offender.

Federal officials will then deport Scavone back to Brazil after he serves his jail sentence.  If Scavone returns to the United States, he will be required to notify corrections officials and be supervised as a sex offender. 

During the cruise, Scavone and a 15 year Brazilian teenager lured the young girl from a teen center back to their cabin where they took turns sexually assaulting her.

The crime took place on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship. 

We previously reported on this sexual assault on the Allure of the Seas in our articles Two Rapes Alleged on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship and International Media Focuses on Royal Caribbean Cruise Rape Case

Cruise Lines, FBI & Coast Guard Caught Altering Cruise Crime Law

NBC Bay Area reports that Congress is pointing the finger at the the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard for watering down a cruise crime law on behalf of the cruise lines to make it easier for the cruise industry to withhold statistics about crime at sea from the American public.

The Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 was intended to provide greater transparency regarding the number of cruise ship crimes which occur on cruise ships each year. The FBI has previously stated that over 400 serious crimes occur a year on cruise ships leaving U.S. ports.

However, last minute maneuvers by the FBI and Coast Guard on behalf of the cruise lines altered the bill so that only crimes "no longer under investigation” by the FBI would be reported in the public database.

Crimes not reported to the FBI, and therefore no longer under investigation, don't have to be disclosed to the public. This encourages the cruise lines to engage in cover-ups, which was the problem which the new law was intended to correct.

The result of the alteration of the law is that only a few crimes are reported to the public rather than the hundreds which actually occur.

Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims Association, spent months trying to figure out how the bill was altered.  He learned that the Senator who introduced the law, John Kerry, agreed to permit the law to be altered.

Mr. Carver said he's disappointed that the agencies he’d worked with to make crime statistics more transparent are to blame for the radical changes to the cruise crime law.

"We do feel betrayed there has been a close relationship built up over the years between the Coast Guard, FBI and cruise lines," Carver said. "Why did they want to change it so that instead of working to protect the U.S. citizens it protected the cruise line industry?"  

 

  

Cruise Ship Perverts, Rapists & Child Predators - Part I

I started this blog only two and one-half years ago.  I have written about several dozen rapists and child predators, as well as a lot of pedophile crew members and cruise passengers who are arrested for child pornography.  One motto of Cruise Law News is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know, like this: 

Paul Trotter - Cunard Cruise Ship Child Predator.Paul Trotter, age 34, is the most prolific cruise child predator known to the public so far.  He worked for Cunard for seven years as a child supervisor aboard the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.  He would take the children to areas not covered by surveillance cameras and physically and sexually abuse them.  A real sicko, he would film himself sexually molesting the children.  This was ultimately what got him caught. Someone tipped the police off in the U.K. where he lived.  A police search of his computer revealed not only child pornography but his own videos of his crimes against the kids he was entrusted with on cruises.   One newspaper reported that he supervised the "play zone" on 295 cruises over his seven years with Cunard.  He admitted to abusing thirteen child probably because he was caught with images of 13 victims, is my suspicion.  295 cruises and several thousand children. A play zone of his own with no one supervising him while he abused the customer's kids.  A pedophile's dream.  How many more victims are there?  Read more here about Trotter.       

Cruise Ship Child Perverts - Cunard - Pier 21Edward Brillantes Mangubat, age 40, (no photo) is another pedophile who worked for Cunard. He was arrested in Halifax when Canadian Border officer searched his laptop computer and found sexually explicit video featuring children. Mangubat worked as a stagehand on Cunard's cruise ship Queen Mary 2.  He worked on cruise ships for seven years.  Did he know Trotter and exchange porno tapes? Border agents went to Mangubat’s cabin and discovered that his laptop contained several videos showing “what can only be described as sexual assault of children,” including children under 12.”  He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

Canada vigorously enforces its laws against child pornography. This is the fourth case we know where Canadian Border agents arrested a crew member with child pornography from a cruise ship. Most of the crew members are arrested at Pier 21 in Halifax (photo, left).  Canada has also arrested a Carnival crew member from the Carnival Glory, a Costa crew member from the Costa Atlantica, and and a NCL crew member from the Norwegian Jewel - all for child pornography in their computers on cruise ships.  

Amado Nicholas Hernandez - Celebrity Cruises - Child PornographyAmado Nicholas Hernandez, age 31, is a pedophile employed by Celebrity Cruises as an audiovisual manager and provided onboard guest-entertainment services.  

Hernandez was arrested after police determined that his computer contained 450 photographs and about 250 video files of child pornography portraying a total of 44 different victims. The criminal complaint filed against Hernandez alleged that upcoming cruises included several stops in Mexico. Hernandez, in documented online chats, reportedly had bragged that he had bought young boys for sex in Mexico and “almost offed one,” the criminal complaint alleges. 

The issue of child predators and crew members with child pornography on cruise ships is something we have written about frequently.  Read more here.  

Dylan Cole Bloodsworth - Carnival Cruise - Sexual AsaultDylan Cole Bloodsworth, age 19, of Gautier Mississippi, sexually assaulted a 13 year old girl during a cruise aboard the Carnival Elation cruise ship. The minor met Bloodsworth on near the elevators onboard the cruise ship and agreed to meet him on the top deck after dinner. She later went with Bloodsworth to get a jacket from his cabin, where the sexual abuse occurred. Bloodsworth had been arrested a month before the cruise for allegedly threatening to harm a 13 year old girl and her family unless she agreed to have sex with him. Usually criminal suspects are not permitted to leave the jurisdiction when on bail, especially to go on a cruise ship with many minors. The prosecutor told the judge that Bloodsworth is ". . . a serial rapist. He preys on underage girls.” He was sentenced to ten years in jail. 

Cases like this should be a reminder to parents that cruise lines do not conduct background checks on passengers who sail on cruise ships. The teenager in the cabin next to your family could be out on bail for abusing children ashore. Read more here

Check back for Cruise Ship Perverts, Rapists & Child Predators - Part II.

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Sexual Assault During Sailing Excursion in St. Kitts & Nevis

A newspaper in St. Kitts & Nevis, the Observer, reports that police are investigating a sexual assault involving a cruise ship passenger visiting the island last week. on Tuesday.

The newspaper states that the local  police confirmed that a report had been made by a female cruise passenger that she was sexually assaulted while aboard a catamaran tour. The woman was a passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas cruise ship, which had docked at Port Zante earlier that morning.  According to the Observer:

" . . . the alleged incident took place in the bathroom of the catamaran while it was docked in Nevis. Information received was that the female reported the incident when the vessel returned to St. Kitts at the end of the tour; the young woman was aboard the catamaran with a family member. Police Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas - St. Kitts confirmed that she was taken to JNF Hospital where she underwent several routine tests for sexual assault reports."

The following day, the police issued a public statement stating:

"The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force take all claims of sexual assault very seriously. All claims of sexual assault are investigated and if substantiated, charges are filed against the suspects and arrests are made. So serious is the resolve of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force to combat offenses of sexual assault in the Federation, a Special Victims Unit (SVU) was created and staffed with investigators who were trained in both the United States and Canada. Based on the investigation conducted, and information presented by the reporter, there is no physical evidence to substantiate her allegation of a sexual assault. The investigation continues."

It appears unusual for a police department to quickly issue a public statement conveying information from a rape kit analysis in the middle of an alleged investigation.  It makes you wonder if the local police are acting as spokespeople for the tourism bureau.  Part of the problem with rapes during cruises is how quickly the cruise lines and local authorities deny they occur in the interest of protecting their reputations.

The newspaper does not identify the name of the excursion company, the name of the catamaran, or whether this was an excursion sponsored by Royal Caribbean.  The cruise line has a catamaran excursion which you can see here, although it is not clear whether the incident involved this excursion. 

The risk of sexual assault during cruises is real, both on the cruise ships, during water excursions, and ashore.  We have represented young women sexually assaulted during snorkeling and diving excursions as well as in ports of call.    

 

"Attacked at Sea" - the Dark Side of Cruising

NBC Bay Area aired a cruise crime special last night regarding the problem of sexual assaults at sea. The program is called "Crime Onboard - The Dark Side of Cruising."

NBC reports that although cruising is one of the most popular ways to travel and vacation, passengers are often left in the dark about the risks out at sea.  One problem is how many reported crimes are actually made public. The investigation concludes that shipboard crimes are often unreported, covered-up or not accessible by the public.

The program begins with cruise passenger Laurie Dishman who was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship who was sexually assaulted by a part time security guard with a history of sexually harassing women during cruises.  We represented Ms. Dishman in a lawsuit against the cruise line.  

 

 

You can watch the video interview with Ms. Dishman's Congresswoman, Doris Matsui, here

 

Video credit:  NBC Bay Area

NBC Special: Crime Onboard - the Dark Side of Cruising

As part of its special investigation into the problem of crime on cruise ships, "Crimes Onboard - The Dark Side of Cruising," NBC Bay Area interviewed Congresswomen Doris Matsui (D-CA) who was instrumental in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act.

Congresswoman Matsui's constituent (and our client) Laurie Dishman called upon her after Ms. Dishman was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in February 2006. Congresswoman convened a hearing regarding the crime. Ms. Dishman testified before Congress in 2005 regarding her ordeal.  She traveled to Washington D.C. over 30 times to lobby for the passage of a cruise crime bill to protect women and children from sexual assaults on cruise ships.

Congresswoman Matsui discusses the new safety law which became effective this year.  She points out correctly that one of the purposes of the new law was to educate the public regarding the startling number of sexual assaults and other crimes which occur on cruise ships each year.  However, after the bill was voted into law, the final version of the law was watered down.   The FBI and Coast Guard now reveal only the number of closed criminal cases on cruise ships as opposed to the number of total crimes actually occurring each year.  

The public is warned of only a fraction of the real number of cruise crimes.  

The difference is between 16 closed cases as opposed to the actual number - "in the hundreds."

The democratic process is a slow one.  The cruise industry vigorously fought against the new cruise law for years, only to cave in at the end when passage of the law was likely.  Now it turns out that some limiting language was inserted into the bill at the end of the day which conceals the majority of the crimes which occur each year on cruise ships.  I wonder who did that? 

As Congresswoman Matsui points out, she and others in Congress are working on this issue.  The cruise crime law is just the first step to deal with the problem of crime on cruise ships.    

 

 

Watch the video interview of Congresswoman Matsui's constituent, Laurie Dishman, here

Video credit:  NBC Bay Area

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of 14 Year Old Passenger

A Royal Caribbean crew member has pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a 14 year old girl during a Caribbean cruise.

25 year old Fabian Palmer admitted engaging in sexual relations with the girl during a cruise from Baltimore in December 2010.

Crew member Palmer was employed by Royal Caribbean as a pool attendant and interacted regularly with passengers during cruises.  He met the girl and her family earlier during the cruise. 

Palmer took the child into a men's locker room on the Enchantment of the Seas and engaged in sexual acts in the bathroom.  You can read more about this crime, and similar incidents, in our Fabian Palmer - Royal Caribbean - Sexual Abuse of Minorarticles BUSTED! Another Crew Member Arrested for Allegedly Raping on Cruise and Royal Caribbean Crew Member Arrested for Sexually Abusing 14 Year Old Girl.  

He faces imprisonment with a maximum sentence of 15 years.  His sentencing is June 29th in Baltimore. 

As part of the plea agreement, the crew member must register as a sexual predator where he lives and where he works.  To my knowledge, there are no sexual predators databases or programs in Jamaica where Palmer is from.   

In an unusual move, it was the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) which issued the press statement announcing the guilty plea.  The FBI has increasingly been criticized for its reluctance to involve itself in shipboard crimes.  

 

Photo Credit:  Fabian Palmer facebook

Was a Passenger Sexually Assaulted on the Carnival Victory?

Carnival Victory Cruise Ship Rape  Several people have informed us that Carnival is investigating an incident where a cruise passenger awoke on the Carnival Victory cruise ship in a crewmember's cabin with bruises and little recollection of events.

The issue of cruise ship rape is one the cruise industry nastiest secrets.

Was a passenger raped on the Carnival Victory?

We have reason to believe that two crewmembers are under scrutiny.

There are online reports that a Maitre'd from Macedonia and a waiter from Croatia were arrested for the alleged rape of an underage girl.

Our Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a spotty history of investigating shipboard rapes.  Was the alleged incident timely and accurately reported by Carnival to the FBI?  Has there been an arrest?

Crewmembers were arrested recently for engaging in sexual abuse of a 16 year old girl on the NCL Norwegian Star, a child on a Cunard cruise ship by a child activities supervisor, a 14 year old girl on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas, a 15 year old girl (by another passenger) on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, and a 14 year old girl aboard the Carnival Freedom.    All of this in just three months.

A rape is the last thing that Carnival wants to deal with after the Costa Concordia disaster and the Costa Allegra ship fire.      

The Carnival Victory is sailing a 7 Night Southern Caribbean itinerary and departed San Juan today.

You can read about cruise ships rapes here.  Rapes of children on cruises here.

We have represented over 75 women and children raped on cruise ships including Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines, among others. 

The last time the Carnival Victory was in the news was following the murder of a 14 year old passenger ashore in St. Thomas last year.  We are representing the victim's family in a case we reported on here

Were you on the cruise last week?  If you have information to share, please leave a comment below.  

January 23, 2013 Update: Bad Times Aboard the Fun Ships: Passenger Alleges Rape Aboard Carnival Victory Cruise Ship 

FBI Arrests NCL Assistant Cruise Director for Engaging in Sex With 16 Year Old Passenger & Child Pornography

The Federal Bureau of Investigations ("FBI") arrested the assistant cruise director of the Norwegian Star cruise ship for engaging in sex with a 16 year old passenger and possessing child pornography.   

29 year old Senad Djedovic, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) for six years for a number of different NCL cruise ships 

The 16 year old girl, from Minnesota, was sailing with her family on a 7 day cruise out of Tampa at the end of January.  Djedovic met the girl shortly after she boarded the cruise.  At the end of the cruise he engaged in sex with her in a stairwell on the cruise.  After the cruise, Djedovic exchanged Senad Djedovic - NCL - Cruise Ship Sexual Abuse emails with the girl which included explicit images and a video of him masturbating in front of a photo of the child. 

One email included the message: I miss you big time . . . you little young girl."  

The child 's father allegedly told him earlier in the cruise that she was 16 years old.  He apparently admitted to other crew members that she was only 16. 

The FBI seized his computer which contained child pornography on a hard drive.  Under a sub-folder entitled "scandals" there were several videos depicting sexual acts with 12 to 15 year old girls, which were downloaded from the internet. 

The Department of Justice charged Djedovic with sexual abuse of a minor and possessing materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors.  

Sexual abuse of minors during cruise by cruise staff and older passengers is one of the real dangers on cruise ships.  Last month we reported on a Cunard children's activities supervisor being arrested for child sexual abuse

You can read about many other cases where crewmembers possessed child pornography or crewmembers and passengers sexually abused minors during cruises here, involving all of the major cruise lines - Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

Are Cruise Ships a Perfect Place to Commit Crimes?

Rebecca Coriam - Missing - Disney Wonder Cruise ShipFollowing the airing of "Lost at Sea" program on Australia's Dateline television program, a newspaper in Australia published a short article entitled: "Cruise Ships Perfect Ground for Predators - Investigation."

The Herald Sun mentions our firm and the case of Rebecca Coriam who disappeared from the Disney cruise ship Wonder.  The article also mentions case of members of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization:

"Criminals are more likely to get away with serious crimes on cruise ships than anywhere else, a maritime lawyer has warned, with 200 people vanishing at sea worldwide in the past decade.

Jim Walker said about half the disappearances have some factor of foul play.

"The place to get away with a crime is on a cruise ship,'' he told the SBS program Dateline.

"The place to be a sexual predator and prey on children is on a cruise ship."

"If you're a rapist, you're more likely to get away with committing the crime on a cruise ship on the high seas.

"All of this is happening out in international waters, typically.

"There are no policemen on the scene . . . You can't summons a police officer who will run onto the crime scene. So they're out there by themselves.'' 

In Australia, the death of Australian woman Dianne Brimble received widespread media coverage with Dianne Brimble - Cruise Ship Victimstrong criticism of the party culture that existed aboard cruise ships.

Ms Brimble died aboard a P&O Cruise ship of a drug overdose after consuming a date rape drug and is alleged to have received callous treatment from passengers she was with at the time of taking the drug.

Mr. Walker said the cruise industry knew it had a problem more than a decade ago and tried to fix it through slick advertising and marketing, rather than taking the hard steps they needed to really clean their act up.

"You have cabin attendants now who are being hired from Third World countries - no disrespect to small Caribbean islands - that have no databases.

"You can't track them even if you wanted to."

"You don't know what you're getting. But you're hiring a 28-year-old man to be responsible for 12-year-old girls' cabin.

"Mum and dad don't know what's happening. They're at the casino, they're at the show, they're up at the nightclub, and the cabin attendant gets back into the cabin - that's still happening. Those cases are still happening.''

While the cruise industry has followed some guidelines, such as installing peepholes in cabin doors, Dateline reporter Nick Lazaredes said few ships had upgraded their video systems or installed man-overboard alarm systems.

Those who have gone missing at sea include 23-year-old English woman Rebecca Coriam, who disappeared while working on the Disney Wonder cruise ship.

Her family was shocked to learn that there would be no US involvement in investigating her disappearance.

When the family of 20-year-old son Blake Kepley, who went missing on a family cruise to Alaska, Merrian Carver - Missing - Celebrity Cruisesrequested that the captain review footage from security cameras, they were told that wasn't possible.

Ken Carver's 40-year-old daughter, Merrian, also vanished off a Celebrity Cruises voyage to Alaska in 2004.

Mr Carver, who is now president of an activist group called International Cruise Victims, said he was stonewalled at every turn as he searched for answers to her disappearance.

The story eventually became the subject of five congressional hearings, which resulted in America's cruise, vessel and safety act.

The newspaper contained links to some of the more disturbing stories the cruise lines would prefer you not know about:

CBS: Woman Speaks Out About Cruise Ship Crime

BBC: Cruise Passengers 'Not Protected From Serious Crime'

Guardian: Rebecca Coriam - Lost at Sea

ABC (US): Cruise Cover-Up?

I am also posting the Dateline Special "Lost at Sea" in case you have not seen it yet:

 

Cruise Ship Accident Google Lawyers

I read an interesting article today about the high prices that some attorneys are paying to advertise on Google.  The paid ads, sometimes called "sponsored listings," appear at the top or the top right side of the Google search engine search results.

There are two types of search results on Google: (1) "organic" listings which rank sites based on the value of their content and popularity of the site, and (2) paid listings which list results based on how much the lawyers pay for certain words or phrases.

The article, "Lawyers Outspend Obama On The Web," discusses a study conducted by the Institute for Legal Reform for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The study found that some lawyers are spending as much as $79 for a single "click-through" ad word.  When the sponsored ad is "clicked-on," the lawyer is charged the amount bid on for the word or phrase.   

Google Lawyer AdsSome 25 lawyers across the country are spending over $100,000 for Google click-through ads.  The report states that one law firm in Houston is paying $16,600,000 for Google ads.

The report also identifies one of our main competitors in Miami as most closely associated with the phrase "cruise ship assault" both via paid ads and search engine optimization.  Some other Miami attorneys are paying to advertise phrases on Google like "cruise rape," "cruise sexual assault" and so forth.

There is nothing wrong with Google ads, although we do not pay for any advertisements like this or any advertisements at all for that matter.   Our blog is strictly "organic" in nature, meaning that it is ranked solely on the relevancy and current status of the content, the number of sites which link to it and so forth.  Based on the Alexa/AVVO ranking system, Cruise Law News is a top ten most popular law blog in the U.S.  In the first two months this year, Cruise Law News had 289,530 visits and the visitors read 862,721 pages.

My only criticism about the concept of Google ads is that there are law firms which I have never heard of who probably have handled only a few cruise line cases at best.  Nonetheless, they are advertising themselves on Google as "cruise lawyers."  I call these lawyers "Google lawyers."  

I saw this happening after the Costa Concordia cruise ship crash.  All types of lawyers across the U.S. began billing themselves as "cruise ship accident lawyers" on paid Google ads.  An internet marketing company has an interesting article about what it calls ambulance chasing marketing

If you want to see where a law firm's website or blog is ranked based on objective criteria, download the Alexa toolbar here.  It's easy to install and will take less than 30 seconds.

If you are looking for a lawyer to handle a cruise ship case, don't be fooled by the top listings on the click-through Google ads.  Many of these lawyers are not even licensed to practice in Florida where most cases have to be filed. Be certain to inquire into how many cases they have actually handled and the success of those cases.  Be sure to ask to speak to former clients for their opinion on how their cruise line cases turned out.   

 

Image: Avalanche Internet Marketing

Read Sun Sentinel's Cruise Crime Database (and Don't Forget the Cartoons)

With cruise safety hearings coming up later this month in Washington, the debate will resume regarding how many crimes really occur on cruise ships.

The cruise lines will say that crime is rare but will not refer to any database to support their their self-serving conclusion.  Cruise lines do not reveal their own internal crime statistics, except when ordered to do so under the threat of sanctions by a court.

But there are some on-line sources of information.  In addition to this blog, there is of course the web site Cruise Junkie by cruise expert Ross Klein who tracks cruise ship crimes.  

Another interesting source is a database by the Fort Lauderdale newspaper, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which listed cruise crimes from December 2007 to October 2008.  You can look at the hundreds of various crime allegations, some petty and some very disturbing, here.

Unlike the Miami Herald which is beholden to the cruise lines which advertise in the Miami newspaper, the Sun Sentinel has maintained a sense of journalistic integrity when it comes to reporting on things that go wrong during cruises.

The Sentinel also has a sense of humor about the cruise industry.  Take a look at the cartoon which ran last week after several Princess cruise ships returned to Fort Lauderdale filled with passengers sickened by norovirus:

Chan Lowe - Cruise Ship Norovirus

" . . . viral diseases, crimes of violence, theft, seasickness, weight gain, liver damage, possibly getting stuck at the dinner table for the entire journey with people who deny the theory of evolution … sounds like the kind of vacation from which lasting memories are made . . ."

The cartoon and comments are by Chan Lowe who has been the Sun Sentinel’s editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years.  

 

Cartoon credit:  Chan Lowe / South Florida Sun Sentinel / Tribune Media 

Cunard Child Supervisor Arrested for Sexually Molesting Child During Cruise

Several news stations in the U.K. are reporting that the police arrested a former Cunard crewmember on charges that he sexually molested at least one child during a cruise.

Paul Trotter, age 34, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, in the U.K., is alleged to have abused the child between December 20, 2011 and January 5, 2012 while working in the children's child activities facility on an undisclosed Cunard cruise ship.   His official job title was "children's activity supervisor" for Cunard.  He was also charged with possessing indecent photographs of children. 

We reported on the fact that the police in England were investigating child molestation on Cunard cruise ships last month in our article:  Did a Cunard Child Predator Molest Children Aboard the QM2 & Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ships?

Queen Mary 2 - Child Molestation?The police in England started the investigation after a parent of one of the abused children tipped the police.   Although the U.K. media is referring to only one abused child at this point, the police have interviewed several families in England, Mr. Trotter worked for five years for Cunard  on Cunard’s flagship, the Queen Mary 2, and its sister cruise ships, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria.

These Cunard cruise ships carried passengers of course from many other countries, including the U.S.

So far, Cunard has not disclosed the incident to the public nor informed families who they should contact for information.

Cunard's website refers to "Children's Activities" and assure parents that their kids are safe: " . . . you can be certain that they are in the best of care with our certified Early Years staff . . . " 

Molestation of children by cruise employees is one of the cruise industry's nastiest secrets.  You can read about the problem in our prior blog articles, including Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children.

February 16, 2012 Update: Did Cunard Child Supervisor Molest Other Children During Cruises?

April 20, 2012 Update:  Trotter Admits He Sexually Abused 13 Boys

Raped on a Cruise Ship Operated by an Italian Cruise Line and Flagged in Panama? Cruise Rape Victim Falls Through Jurisdictional Cracks . . .

A criminal trial against a South African man accused of raping a South African woman during a cruise ended when the trial court ruled that the alleged rape did not occur in the territorial waters of South Africa.

Sindhu Ramanandh Bhogal - Alleged Cruise Ship Rapenewspaper in South Africa published a disturbing story about the defense raised by the lawyers for a passenger who is accused of raping a woman after allegedly spiking her drink during a cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship.

The case involves South African national Anika Marks who sailed on the MSC Cruises ship in November 2009.  Ms. Marks was on what is described as a three-day business trip with work colleagues when another South African passenger, Sindhu Ramanandh Bhogal, allegedly drugged and raped her. 

The cruise ship regularly sails between Durban and Mozambique. On the cruise in question, Ms. Marks says that she had been dancing at a disco on the cruise ship when she went alone to an outside deck to smoke a cigarette. Bhogal was there and they spoke.  She left to go to the toilet, leaving her drink and cigarettes on the deck next to Bhogal.

After she returned, she smoked a cigarette Bhogal offered her and drank a drink he offered her.  Marks thereafter "lost control of her head and body" and then remembered walking down stairs with Bhogal behind.  The next thing she remembered was Bhogal on top of her, with her dress up and underwear off, and him raping her.

After two years of legal wrangling, defendant Bhogal's lawyers asserted a new defense - the South Anika Marks - South Africa - South Africa - Cruise Ship RapeAfrican state courts cannot try him for the cruise ship rape because the incident happened in   Mozambican waters.

Mr. Bhogal’s lawyer cited a provision in the South African Criminal Procedures Act that if the alleged crime occurs in international waters or another country's territorial waters, the South African state courts have no jurisdiction.

Because the MSC cruise ship is operated by an Italian cruise line and is flagged in Panama, technically only the country of Panama can prosecute crimes against a South African woman which occur outside of the territorial waters of South Africa.

I have never heard of Panama ever investigating or prosecuting crimes on Panamanian flagged cruise ships.  After all, cruise lines flag their ships in places like Panama to avoid oversight. That's where Carnival, for example, flags its vessels.  If you are a woman sexually assaulted on a Panamanian flagged cruise ship and your country does not permit criminal prosecutions of rapists in international waters, don't expect anyone from Panama to arrest the assailant.  You are in an international no-man's land. 

 

Photo credit:  INSLA

Did a Cunard Child Predator Molest Children Aboard the QM2 & Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ships?

The Mail Online in the U.K. reports tonight that a crewmember who worked aboard two of the world’s most luxurious cruise ships is being investigated by police on suspicions that he sexually assaulted children during the cruises. 

The newspaper reports that the Cunard crew member who allegedly carried out his indecent conduct worked for Cunard for over five years on Cunard’s flagship, the Queen Mary 2, and its sister cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Mary 2 - Cunard Child Predator?  Detectives in England started the investigation after a parent of one of the abused children tipped the police.   So far, the detectives have interviewed several families in England.   The crewmember suspected of the crimes lives in Wiltshire, in England.

These Cunard cruise ships carried passengers of course from many other countries, including the U.S.

According to this account, the crewmember left Cunard's employment before the police probe began six months ago but has been interviewed by detectives in Wiltshire.  The detectives have apparently examined photographic and computer equipment at the man’s home.

The UK newspaper indicates that Cunard refuses to identify the job position of the the former crew member, "but he is known to have been a low-ranking employee who had regular, close contact with passengers on board."   Based on this description, its sounds like the alleged child predator probably worked as a cabin attendant or a youth counselor.

Sexual molestation of children on cruises is an ugly topic we have written about many times before.  You can read more cases than you want to know about little kids being sexually abused on cruises here.

These two Cunard cruise ships are part of the larger Carnival fleet of cruise ships.  Carnival owns Cunard.  This is the last thing that Carnival wants to be in the press at this time, as it is reeling from the bad publicity after another one of the cruise brand it owns, Costa Cruises, ran a $500,000,000 cruise ship into the rocks and killed around 30 of its guests.

A reckless captain who abandons ship while passengers are drowning in the submerged cabins of the Costa Concordia?  A child predator who worked aboard the Cunard QM2 and Queen Elizabeth for 5 years? 

What's the next shoe to drop in the Carnival fleet? 

February 16, 2012 Update: Did Cunard Child Supervisor Molest Other Children During Cruises?

BUSTED! Another Cremember Arrested for Allegedly Raping Girl on Cruise

Yesterday we published an article about a Royal Caribbean crew member who sexually assaulted a 14 year old girl aboard the Adventure of the seas cruise ship.  You can read about the alleged crime here

You can read the criminal complaint and violence of the alleged act here.

This case involves a Roal Caribbean "pool attendant" Fabian Palmer who seems to befriendly with all ages of the opposite sex.

The mugshot of the arrested Royal Caribbean crewmember is below:

Fabian Palmer - Royal Caribbean Cruise - Sexual Assault  

Read our prior article: Royal Caribbean Crewmember Indicted For Sexually Abusing 14 Year Old Girl

Think sexual assault of children is "rare" as the cruise lines want you to believe?  Consider reading these articles:

Sexual Assault of Children on Cruise Ships - A Problem the Cruise Community Wants to Forget

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

Should Travel Agents Be Liable For Falsely Representing That Cruises Are Safe For Kids?

Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Top Ten Reasons Not To Cruise: No. 1 - Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges  

Cruise Ship Sexual Assault: Carnival Bartender Gets Three Years For Raping Fourteen Year Old Passenger

International Media Focuses on Royal Caribbean Cruise Rape Case

Over the past week there has been a steady stream of articles in the international press regarding the sexual assault of a 15 year old girl by two Brazilian passengers aboard the Allure of the Seas.

The Mail Online newspaper in the U.K. published an article Vacation Nightmare As Daughter, 15, On A Family Christmas Cruise 'Is Lured From A Teen Dance And Raped By Two Men In A Private Room'

Antonio Luiz Scavone Neto - Luiz ScavoneNumerous newspapers in Brazil are covering the story as well.   Today Cominidade News in Brazil was the latest Brazilian newspaper to report on the alleged cruise crime case.

This is an incident which is likely to remain in the news for a long time.  It involves the world's largest cruise ship which Royal Caribbean launched with great fanfare.  The question is whether the one billion dollar cruise ship, packed with multiple Flow-riders, rock climbing walls, skating rink and zip line attractions, has adequate security to protect its 6,500 guests from crimes like this.

The case also will highlight jurisdictional issues involved when foreign nationals from a country with no extradition treaty with the U.S. commit a crime against an U.S. citizen on a foreign flagged cruise ship.

Tomorrow morning a criminal state court judge in Fort Lauderdale will take evidence and entertain argument whether defendant Luiz Scavone (full name Antonio Luiz Scavone Neto) presents a flight risk.  If defendant Scavone is able to flee the U.S. and return to Brazil, there is a certainty that the U.S. will never be able to compel his return to face trial.    

 

Read our prior articles:

Two Rapes Alleged on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Alleged Cruise Ship Rapists From Brazil Seek Low Bond

Alleged Cruise Ship Rapists From Brazil Seek Low Bond

Luiz Antônio Scavone Neto - Alleged Cruise Rapist - Luis Scavonne The Sun-Sentinel reports that at a hearing this morning the defense lawyer for alleged cruise rapist, Brazilian citizen Luis Scavone (full name Luiz Antônio Scavone Neto) requested a Broward judge to set "little or no bail."   However, prosecutors for the state argue that defendant Scavone is a flight risk. 

Judge Matthew Destry scheduled a hearing for this Friday to take testimony and hear argument whether defendant Scavone, who allegedly committed "lewd and lascivious" acts against a 15 year old girl on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, is a fight risk.

Scavone is photographed above left, in happier times.  

The Broward County Sheriff's Office arrested Scavone together with a 15 year old boy, described as an  "alleged accomplice," who lured the 15 year old girl from an on-board nightclub into a passenger cabin on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship, according to state prosecutors.

The incident was investigated by the FBI and the Broward County Sheriff's Office which also asserted jurisdiction after the cruise ship returned to port in Fort Lauderdale.

Luiz Antônio Scavone Neto - Cruise Rape Suspect - Allure of the SeasA previous judge who presided over the preliminary hearing,  John "Jay" Hurley, expressed concern that Scavone would flee to Brazil if given the opportunity.  The Sun-Sentinel quotes the judge saying "People who are from Brazil can go to Brazil, and there's very little chance that they'll be brought back to the United States."  The judge called Brazil a "loophole."  The judge was referring to the fact that Brazil recently amended its constitution to prohibit the extradition of criminals from Brazil.  Judge Hurley ordered that Scavone be fitted with a GPS monitor if he is released from custody while the case is pending.

It will be interesting to learn whether the two defendants hid after the alleged crime on the ship ship to avoid responsibility.  That would be a good indication whether they would try and flee the U.S. if released on a low bond. 

The press in Brazil are showing interest in this alleged cruise ship crime.  Several newspapers are publishing stories.  The 15 year old defendant's uncle is apparently a lawyer in Brazil.  The SRZD newspaper in Brazil quotes the family lawyer in Brazil denying everything and making nasty comments about the victim and her family.

Read Our Prior Article:  Two Rapes Alleged on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship 

Photo credits:

Top:  Brazil Voice

Bottom:  Joe Cavaretta via Sun-Sentinel

Sun-Sentinel article credit: Rafael A. Olmeda

Two Rapes Alleged on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

The world's largest cruise ship was the location for two shipboard rapes during a 10 day Christmas and New Year cruise which returned to South Florida yesterday.

The first reported incident occurred on the last night of the cruise and has been reported by several local news stations.  It involved a 15 year old girl who was lured from a cruise line teen club under false pretenses back to a passenger cabin and then sexually assaulted by a 20 year old man and another 15 year old boy.

Allure of the Seas Passenger - Luiz Scavone - Brazil - Rape - Sexual AssaultThe alleged assailants are two Brazilian passengers who were sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, which is based on Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

According to the Broward County's Sheriff's Office, the 15 year old girl was at the cruise ship's teen club called "Fuel" when a 15 year old boy told her he was having a party in his room.  The young girl, who was vacationing with her family, was led to believe that she would meet friends there.  However, after entering entering the cabin, she was confronted by an older passenger, Luiz Scavone, age 20. His full name is Luiz Antônio Scavone Neto.

The Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) said that Scavone and the 15 year old boy prevented her from leaving, removed her clothing, forced oral sex, and then both raped her. "The victim told them 'no' several times and tried to leave but was not able to," according to the  BSO.

Scavone and the 15-year-old boy have been charged with "lewd and lascivious battery."  Scavone is in jail in Fort Lauderdale.  His Broward County Sheriff's mugshot is to the left. 

A judge in Broward County ordered Scavone to relinquish his Brazilian passport.  According to CBS Channel 4, the judge stated that if the immigration hold is lifted, and Scavone is released on bond, he must be fitted with a GPS monitor and is barred from applying for a replacement passport.  The judge cited the case of a Boynton Beach police officer who fled to Brazil last July using a replacement passport after he was indicted on a drug charge.  The U.S. used to have an extradition treaty with Brazil for decades, however Brazil now prohibits its citizens from being extradited to other other countries to face criminal charges.

The second incident occurred in the early morning hours of January 1, 2012.  It also involved a Brazilian passenger, believed to be in his 40's, who sexually harassed and then sexually assaulted and battered an U.S. college student.  The young woman was treated in the ship infirmary and underwent a rape examination.  Unlike the incident involving the 15 year old victim where the assailants were arrested, the Brazilian man was released by the FBI and the Broward Sheriff's Office.  He returned to Brazil and cannot be extradited.

This incident has not been reported in the media.  Royal Caribbean has not issued a statement regarding the second allegation of sexual assault.

 

 

Issues to consider:

These incidents raise questions regarding the adequacy of the security aboard the world's largest cruise ship.  The Allure and its sister cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas, can carry 6,500 passengers.  Both ships are essentially small cities with no police force.  We have been critical of Royal Caribbean's refusal to employ a sufficient number of security guards on its cruise ships and its refusal to monitor closed circuit television cameras to respond to potential criminal activities.    

A year ago, the Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain and President Adam Goldstein were aboard the Allure's sister ship with microphone in hand and supposedly open for all questions.  But they refused to provide any information about the safety and security of the passengers.  Certainly U.S. passengers who pay thousands of dollars each to sail on this mega-target of a ship deserve straight forward answers whether their families will be safe from crime.  Here are the questions which I posted on my blog which remain unanswered:

"Q:  The LA Times reported that for a period of 32 months, there were over 250 incidents of sexual assault, battery, and sexual harassment against guests and crew members on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. In light of these problems, how many security guards are employed on the Genesis class of cruise ships? 

Q:   How many security guards are assigned to the seven "neighborhoods" on the cruise ships?  Allure of the Seas - Security - Sexual AssaultsAre there security "sub-stations" in each of the neighborhoods?

Q:  How many security guards patrol the neighborhoods from 10:00 p.m. to 4 a.m., a time period we have found when female passengers are at a higher risk of being assaulted?  (Both of the alleged rapes this week occurred in the early morning hours when Royal Caribbean has virtually no guard patrolling). 

Over a year ago, I also asked the  question: 

Has Royal Caribbean invested adequately into safety and security technologies and personnel to protect you and your family?  The cruise line executives will never tell, but we shall soon find out."

January 10, 2012 Update:  Alleged Cruise Ship Rapists From Brazil Seek Low Bond

 

Photo credit:

Top: Broward Sheriff's Office via Mugshots Online

Bottom:  Royal Caribbean Cruises via Cruise Critic

Cruise Ship Rape: A No Man's Land On The High Seas?

Cruise Ship Rape - Victim Anika MarksA newspaper in South Africa published a disturbing story today about the defense raised by the lawyers for a passenger who is accused of raping a woman during a cruise aboard  the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship.

The case involves South African national Anika Marks who sailed on the MSC Cruises ship in November 2009.  Ms. Marks was on what is described as a three-day business trip with 40 work colleagues when another South African passenger, Sindhu Ramanandh Bhogal, allegedly drugged and raped her. 

The cruise ship regularly sails between Durban and Mozambique. On the cruise in question, Ms. Marks says that she awoke two hours after the alleged rape.  She accompanied her colleagues to the South Africa - Portugese IslandsPortuguese islands (see map), one of the ship’s stops on the cruise.  She reported the rape during the cruise the day before the cruise ship was due to return to Durban.  

Rather than using a Jane Doe pseudonym, Ms. Marks is using her own name because she believes that this will encourage other rape victims to take action.

After two years of legal wrangling, defendant Bhogal's lawyers have a new defense - the South African state courts cannot try him for the cruise ship rape because the incident happened in international waters.  The defense lawyer even obtained a statement from Sindhu Ramanandh Bhogal - Cruise Shipthe cruise ship's captain (how interesting) that the incident did not occur in South African waters.  At a hearing last week, Mr. Bhogal’s lawyer cited a provision in the South African Criminal Procedures Act that if the alleged crime occurs in international waters, the South African state courts have no jurisdiction. 

Ms. Marks, on the other hand, alleges that the alleged rape took place the same night the ship left Durban such that the vessel was still in  territorial waters.

If the court concludes that the alleged rape occurred on the high seas, then Mr. Bhogal may walk free.  The prosecution would then have to obtain authority from the National Prosecuting Authority to try and prosecute Mr. Bhogal.  

Cases like this reveal the dilemna which many women face after they have been raped on cruise ships around the world.  Sometimes they find themselves in a no man's land.

In the U.S., only the state of Florida has a law which permits the prosecution of rapists on the high seas.  The Florida law is unique because it permits the state to exercise jurisdiction over crimes which occur on cruise ships even if the rape occur in international waters, provided the ship leaves from a U.S. port and the majority of the passengers are residents of Florida.  

Regarding rapes which occur on cruises in international water which leave from ports in other states, only the U.S. Department of Justice may prosecute such crimes provided that the FBI is interested in investigating the incident.

But if the rape does not involve a U.S. victim or assailant and is against a citizen of another country and occurs on a foreign flag vessel on the high seas, the FBI has no jurisdiction.  This means that the criminal can avoid prosecution on technical terms, citing a lack of jurisdiction.      

MSC Sinfonia Cruise Ship

 

Photo credit:  Photos nos 1 and 3 - International Newspapers via Saturday Star

Update on Alleged Sexual Assault of Child Aboard the Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship

This week we have been contacted by a number of readers who want to know the status of the criminal proceeding against a Carnival crewmember who is accused of sexually abusing a 14 year old girl aboard a Carnival cruise ship.

The incident occurred last month and you can read our initial account of the incident here.   

The crewmember involved is identified as Kert Clyde Jordan, age 35 from the country of Grenada, who worked as a waiter aboard the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.

According to the affidavit of the arresting FBI agent, the young girl was vacationing with family members aboard the Liberty cruise ship during a cruise from October 29th to November 5th of this year.  On the last night of the cruise at around 11:45 PM, crewmember Jordan encountered the girl, age 14, on the upper deck (Lido deck).  She told him that she was 14 years old.  At around 12:15 Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship - Sexual Abuse of MinorAM, Jordan led her a bathroom where he engaged in sexual acts with the child until around 2:00 AM.

The girl reported the incident to her mother the following day after the family returned home following the cruise.  Her mother took her to a hospital in her home state where she underwent medical treatment.  The local police were notified and, in turn, contacted the FBI here in South Florida on November 9, 2011.

On November 19, 2011, the FBI boarded the cruise ship and questioned Jordan, who waived his Miranda rights.  The FBI agent showed him a photograph of the girl, who he acknowledged seeing on the cruise and admitted that she advised him that she was 14 years old.  He also stated that he took photographs of the minor with his cell phone.

The FBI agent also stated that Jordan admitted to committing sexual acts with the girl.

Under federal law, sexual contact with a minor is a felony.  Here Jordan was charged with violating United States Code Section 2243(a)(1) which prohibits a sexual act with a child over the age of 12 but under the age of 16.   

If Jordan in fact waived his Miranda rights and admitted that he knew that the girl was only 14 years old, he will likely be convicted.  The maximum sentence for this type of crime is 15 years in prison. 

Jordan's arraignment was last week and a jury trial will be scheduled for later this year.  He remains in jail. 

Our prior article on this case drew a number of comments, including from people who claim to be family members or friends on the cruise ship.  Some of the comments question the veracity of the minor's claim because she reported the incident after the cruise.  Victims of sexual abuse often report the crime after the fact.  In this case the minor reported it the following day, which is not unusual at all.

There are some unusual comments to our article, including comments from someone who claims to have been a passenger who engaged in sex with Jordan on the same day as the incident involving the 14 year old girl.

We have no basis to verify these comments.  But if true, they raise the issue whether this crewmember engaged in sexual activities with women and underage girls in public bathrooms on the ship during prior cruises.

 

Photo credit:  wikipedia (Captain-Tucker)

Carnival Waiter Sexually Abuses a Minor Aboard Carnival's Liberty Cruise Ship

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami announced today that it is charging a Carnival Cruise crewmember with sexually abusing a 14 year old passenger aboard the Liberty cruise ship.  

According to the criminal complaint filed against the cruise ship employee, Carnival crewmember Kert Clyde Jordan, age 35 of Grenada, engaged in unlawful sexual abuse of  a 14-year old girl while she was cruising on a vacation with her family on the Carnival Liberty.  Under the United States Code which applies to maritime crimes on the high seas involving U.S. citizens, foreign crewmembers can be charged with "sexual abuse."  There is no federal crime involving rape on the high seas against minors. 

Carnival employed crewmember Jordan as a waiter on the Liberty.  The incidents in question occurred in a bathroom on the lido deck of the cruise ship.

The young girl reported the crime to her family after returning home. 

A pre-trial detention hearing is set for December 1st in the U.S. District Court for the South District of Florida here in Miami.

We have reported on many crimes involving young girls on cruise ships before.  Unfortunately, cruise lines like Carnival do not warn parents of crimes like this although they are frequent.  Just a few days ago we reported on "Serial Rapist" Sentenced to 10 Years for Rape of 13 Year Old During Carnival Cruise.

You can read about cases where child predators abuse children in cases on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship like this or where a Carnival crew member rapes a 14 year old girl like this.   

Even supposedly kid friendly cruise lines like Disney Cruises have a history of sexual assaults against young girls on their cruise ships: Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.

We have represented several rape victims before our U.S. Congress and have sued cruise lines on behalf of sexual assault victims on cruise ships and have recovered compensation from $100,000 to over $3,000,000 for our clients. 

December 10, 2011 Update:  Update on Alleged Sexual Assault of Child Aboard the Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship

Carnival Elation - Cruise Ship Sexual Assault

Photo credit:  Carnival Elation cruise ship - Montego Bay Jamaica - Jim Walker

"Serial Rapist" Sentenced to 10 Years for Rape of 13 Year Old During Carnival Cruise

A news blog in Alabama, al.com, reports tonight that a Gautier, Mississippi man dubbed a “serial rapist” by prosecutors will serve 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13 year old girl during a cruise aboard a Carnival cruise ship. 

The case involves Dylan Cole Bloodsworth who was accused of raping the young passenger while he was sailing on the Carnival Elation cruise ship last March.  We reported on this crime in articles earlier this year entitled Passenger Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Minor on Carnival Cruise Ship and Carnival Passenger Admits to Sexually Abusing Minor During Cruise.  

Dylan Cole Bloodsworth - Cruise Ship RapeAlthough Bloodsworth admitted to the crime and said that he had "made a terrible mistake," the Federal District Judge sentenced him to a decade in jail and ordered that  spend the rest of his life under supervision by the U.S. Probation Office when he gets out of prison.

The prosecutor cited a prior sexual assault against another girl and told the judge that Bloodsworth is ". . .  a serial rapist.  He preys on underage girls.”

Bloodsworth's victim on the Carnival ship was on a cruise to Mexico with her family when she met him and agreed to go with him at his insistence to get a jacket from his cabin, where Bloodsworth sexually assaulted her according to court records.

Cases like this should be a wake up call to parents that rapes occur on cruise ships by older passengers as well as crewmembers.  You can read about cases where child predators abuse children in cases on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship like this or where a Carnival crew member rapes a 14 year old girl like this.   

Even supposedly kid friendly cruise lines like Disney Cruises have a history of sexual assaults against young girls on their cruise ships: Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.

Think this is an isolated problem?  Take a moment and read:  Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

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

Cruise Ship Rape - Arbitration in Bermuda? A Jury Trial in Miami? Or Both?

In the past month, I have written about the progression of federal court cases which have chipped away at the rights of foreign crewmembers, who are the backbone of the U.S. based cruise industry.

The cases of Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. and Henriquez v. NCL showed that the Eleventh Circuit would not hesitate to affirm the dismissal of the claims filed on behalf of NCL crewmembers in the U.S. courts here in Miami, leaving the seriously injured seamen to seek compensation in foreign countries applying foreign law.

Princess Cruises - Star Princess - Cruise Ship - Arbitration Sexual AssaultOn Friday, the Eleventh Circuit decided the case of Jane Doe v. Princess Cruises.  The Court addressed the issue whether a Princess crewmember raped on the M/S Star Princess cruise ship would be sent from the U.S. to face uncertain justice before an arbitrator in a country selected by the cruise line, or whether she could try her case here in Miami before a jury.  

According to the opinion which you can read here, the facts allegedly "tell a story of a woman, working for Princess Cruise Lines on one of its ships, who was drugged by other employees, raped and physically injured while she was unconscious, and when she reported to officials of the cruise line what had happened to her they treated her with indifference and even hostility, failed to provide her with proper medical treatment on board, and interfered with her attempts to obtain counseling and medical treatment ashore."  

We represent Jane Doe (whose name is being protected to protect her confidentiality). 

Princess Cruises is represented by Miami cruise defense lawyer Jeffrey Maltzman.

The complaint that we filed on her behalf alleged ten (10) causes of action:

As described by the Eleventh Circuit, the ten claims are:

(1) a “Jones Act negligence” claim, alleging that Princess Cruise Lines breached its “duty to provide a safe place to work such that [Doe] could perform the job obligations in a reasonably safe manner and live aboard the vessel free from sexual violence and/or sexual harassment”;

(2) an unseaworthiness claim, alleging that the cruise line breached its “non-delegable duty to provide [Doe] with a seaworthy vessel upon which to work and live free from sexual battery and/or sexual harassment”; (3) a Jones Act claim, alleging that the cruise line breached its duty under that act to provide Doe with prompt, adequate, and complete medical treatment for “injuries sustained while in the service of the vessel”;

(4) a maintenance and cure claim, alleging that the cruise line “purposefully refused to arrange for and pay [for] timely and complete medical cure” despite its obligation to do so under “the General Maritime Law”;

(5) a Seaman’s Wage Act claim that the cruise line breached its “duty to timely pay all of [Doe’s] wages as a seaman;”

(6) a false imprisonment claim, alleging that the cruise line had “purposefully and intentionally restrained [Doe] against her will on the cruise ship and did not permit her to leave the cruise ship to go ashore for medical treatment” in Seattle;

(7) an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, alleging “separate and independent torts committed by” the cruise line, its agents, and its employees related to Doe’s rape and the way that they handled the situation and treated her after learning of the rape;

(8) a spoliation of evidence claim, alleging that the cruise line breached its duty to preserve evidence after one of its crew members sexually assaulted and battered Doe;

 (9) an invasion of privacy claim, alleging that the cruise line, though its agents, breached its duty to protect Doe’s confidentiality and privacy as a rape victim by repeatedly disclosing her real name in an effort to intimidate and embarrass her; and

(10) a fraudulent misrepresentation claim, alleging that officers of the cruise line who were on the ship repeatedly and falsely told Doe after she had been drugged and raped that she could not disembark the ship to obtain medical treatment and counseling by doctors of her own choosing.  

The Court held that the first five causes of action fall within the language of the arbitration agreement.  The trial court will then consider the cases of LindoHenriquez and Thomas to determine whether these first five causes of action should be sent to Bermuda to be arbitrated and what law should apply.   However, the Court held that the last five causes of action, which involved post-rape conduct alleged against the cruise line, did not arise of of Jane Doe's employment and therefore are not subject to arbitration.  The last five legal theories alleged against the cruise line will be heading toward a jury trial here in Miami. 

This case should be of continuing interest to maritime lawyers representing crewmembers working for cruise lines which insert arbitration agreements in their employment contracts.

The case was featured today in the Daily Business Review.  Maritime lawyer Brett Rivkind also wrote an excellent blog about the rape case and the issue of arbitration entitled: "Appeals Court Addresses Arbitration Clause Involving Claim by Crewmember for Sexual Assault."

 

Photo credit:  Star Princess Cruise Ship, Seattle Washington - Jim Walker 

Royal Caribbean: 24 Allegations of Rape and Sexual Assault in 2010?

Today a newspaper in New Zealand published an article about the high rate of sexual assaults on cruise ships.  The article is entitled  "Sex-Assault Risk Greater On Liners Than On Land: Study."

The article refers to ". . .  one well-known cruise line, Royal Caribbean International, receiving more than 450 sexual abuse complaints during an eight year period."

Royal Caribbean Cruises - Rape - Sexual Assault - Crime The article is based on research conduct by cruise line expert Dr. Ross Klein, who has testified before our U.S. Congress on issues of crimes against cruise passengers.  Dr. Klein's popular website tracks crimes, cases of noro-virus and other incidents and accidents involving the U.S. cruise industry.

The newspaper quotes the following crime statistics based on Dr. Klein's information: 

Royal Caribbean International - 18 ships and 451 complaints of sexual assault and harassment between 1998 and 2005.

Celebrity Cruises - 9 ships and an average of 16 complaints each year between 1998 and 2002.

Carnival Cruise Line - 92 sex-related complaints in one nine-month period in 2008.

According to the newspaper, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean stated that: " . . . the company carried more than 4.5 million guests and crew members in 2010 and reported 13 allegations of rape and 11 of sexual assault - not all of which were upheld."

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are quick to try and minimize the number of sexual assaults by two methods.

First, they like to point out that there are virtually no convictions, which is true.  A major problem is that there are very few convictions when women on raped at sea because of issues of spoliation of evidence, confusing jurisdictional issues, and the tendency of the cruise line to protect its own employees and reputation rather than preserve evidence and encourage prosecutions.  

The second method is to compare the number of crimes to the total number of passengers or passengers/crewmembers which have sailed over the course of a year.   The implication by Royal Caribbean is that it should be compared to a city of 4.5 million and it has "only" 24 rapes or sexual assaults.  

The correct way that the FBI and crime statisticians calculate crime rates is by comparing the number of crimes to the total population, not the total number of tourists or people in transit.  In the case of cruise lines, this means the total population on a cruise line's fleet of ships at any one particular time.  According to this cruise line's information sent to its investors, Royal Caribbean has a total passenger population of around 62,000.  (I am not certain of the total number of crewmembers). 

If this number (24) is accurate, that means that there is a rape or sexual assault allegation about every other week on Royal Caribbean ships alone. 

Royal Caribbean Cruises - Sexual Assault - RapeThere is also a question whether the statistics released by Royal Caribbean are to be trusted.

In 2005 and 2006, we attended Congressional hearings with our clients where Royal Caribbean was instructed by Congress to disclose the total number of sexual assaults in its fleet over a period of approximately three years.  It disclosed 66 rapes and sexual assaults.  However, in a subsequent civil case we handled, the cruise line refused to disclose its crime statistics.  We filed motions to compel and for sanctions.  A trial court then ordered the cruise line to disclose the number of such sexual incidents or face a fine of $1,000. 

In response, the cruise listed far in excess of 66 incidents; the total number was around 273, including allegations of sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during a shorter time period.  The Los Angeles Times covered the story in an article entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters."

If Royal Caribbean is claiming it had 24 incidents last year, I suspect the true number is higher.

 

For additional information about sexual assaults on cruise ships, read another article from the LA Times: Cruise Ship Crime `Low Priority'   

Perfume Sales Assistant Alleges Rape Aboard the Celebrity Equinox

Courthouse News has published a copy of the lawsuit our firm filed against Celebrity Cruises following the alleged rape of an unconscious female crewmember aboard the Celebrity Equinox.  You can read the allegations in the lawsuit here.

According to the lawsuit papers, in October 2010, a crewmember employed as an assistant sales clerk working for a perfume concessionaire aboard the Celebrity Equinox, was raped on the cruise ship in the early morning hours after leaving the crew bar.  "Jane Doe" awoke to find another crewmember sexually assaulting her.

Celebrity Equinox Cruise ShipShe reported the incident to her supervisors and was examined and treated in the ship infirmary.  Police in the next port of call in Israel interviewed her, and the assailant crew member was eventually terminated and sent home.  Like most cruise ship sexual assault allegations, the assailant crew member was not arrested and there was no criminal prosecution.

The ship doctor did not administer any anti-retroviral medications to Jane Doe.  She was permitted four days off from work and thereafter returned to full time duty.  Neither Celebrity Cruises not her employer, Harding Brothers which operates the perfume concession, provided her with a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor despite her many requests for help dealing with the trauma.

Jane Doe ended her employment on the cruise ship in February 2011.  Jane Doe is from South Africa.  She is unemployed.  Neither Celebrity nor Harding Brothers have provided her with any medical treatment or assistance after she left the cruise ship as required by the doctrine of "maintenance and cure."   

Celebrity and its parent company Royal Caribbean have known about the high rate of sexual assaults on cruise ships for over a decade.  

In 1999, Royal Caribbean hired two top notch firms to study the problem of sexual assaults on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships.  The cruise line retained a consulting firm called "Sheridan, Swailes" to study the company's security systems.  Royal Caribbean also retained a nationally recognized expert on sexual harassment issues, Dr. Kay Krohne, who previously was a commanding officer at the Naval Training Station in San Diego. 

Kay Krohne - Cruise Sexual Assault - Cruise Sexual HarassmentAfter conducting an extensive analysis of the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet, these experts concluded that sexual misconduct occurred "frequently" during cruises.  They attributed this problem to the fact that most crew members were not afraid of being arrested, much less convicted.  Dr. Krohne reported that the worst thing that could happen to a crew member who committed a crime on a Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise ship was to be sent on a one way flight home.

Last summer, we reported on a similar sexual assault allegation involving a crewmember from South Africa. "Taryn" was employed as a beauty therapist on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Another crewmember employed as a fitness instructor allegedly raped her.  The cruise line reportedly sent her home after reporting the incident and refused to provide her with medical treatment or living expenses as required by the maritime law.  Her assailant was not prosecuted. 

We wrote about the case in an article Cruise Rape - Is Royal Caribbean Up To Its Old Tricks?

Women on cruise ships need to be aware of the danger of rape, especially after drinking alcohol.  Crewmembers should also know that if they are sexually assaulted on a cruise ship, they entitled to treatment with psychiatrists and counselors until they reach their maximum medical improvement.   

 

Photo credit:

Celebrity Equinox in Haifa Port, Israel - Wikipedia (Shlomiliss)
 

Follow Up to Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Child Molester

A Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old boy while on a cruise vacation sailing out of Florida. According to wpxi.com, Sherwood Stevenson, took the cruise vacation with the intent of molesting the young boy. 

Stevenson, who was 71-years-old at the time, molested the young boy in a hot tub on the cruise in December 2009. It is alleged that Stevenson pursued another young child right after the 6-year-old escaped the hot tub.

Stevenson entered into a plea agreement that will likely result in a four-year prison sentence. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the agreement took into account Stevenson’s age, history of mental illness, and the brief contact with the boy.   Our firm previously reported on the Sherwood Stevenson case in 2010:

Sexual Predator Abuses 6 Year Old Aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

Judge Denies Bond to Child Molester on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

 

Photo of Sherwood Stevenson:  KDKA Pittsburg

"Pub Crawl" on the Norwegian Sun Ends with Rape Allegation against NCL

A fellow Miami lawyer filed a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Lines ("NCL") on behalf of a passenger who alleges that she was raped while aboard the Norwegian Sun cruise ship.

Cruise Pub Crawl - Norwegian SunThe alleged incident occurred in April when the passenger was participating in an NCL organized "pub crawl."   

NCL employees took her and other guests around the ship stopping briefly to drink at various bars where the bartenders encouraged the passengers to drink above safe limits.  After the drinking game, the passenger alleges that she was raped in a public bathroom.

The lawsuit alleges that NCL created a dangerous situation by over-serving the guest alcohol to the point that she could not protect herself and not escorting her safely back to her cabin.

Several years ago, an appellate court here in Miami held that cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol to and then past the level of intoxication.  The fact that the passenger voluntarily drank the alcohol does not act as a bar to the legal claim.

Court Rejects Oceania Cruises' Attempt to Limit Compensation at $65,000 for Child Raped by Crewmember

On June 10th, a senior Federal District Court Judge in Miami rejected an attempt by a Miami-based cruise line to limit its potential liability at no more than $65,000 for alleged damages suffered by a minor raped on a cruise ship.    

The case arose out of a shipboard rape of a girl alleged against Oceania Cruises.  According to the lawsuit papers, an Oceania Cruises crewmember sexually assaulted and raped a 13 year old girl during a cruise aboard the Regatta cruise ship in October 2009.  

Oceania Cruises filed a motion seeking to assert, as an affirmative defense, the terms and Oceania Cruises - Regatta Cruise Ship - Sexual Assault - Rapeconditions of the "Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea."  This is an international treaty which applies when a cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port.  It is commonly referred to as the "Athens Convention."  The Athens Convention limits a cruise lines liability for injuries and deaths to 46,666 Special Drawing Right (SDR's) which is an international currency which has a conversion rate today of around U.S. $65,000.

Most cruise passengers are unaware that if they or a loved one are seriously injured or killed, the cruise lines will try to enforce the Athens Convention damage limitation which is incorporated in all cruise tickets.

However, the Athens Convention does not apply when the cruise line or crewmembers act intentionally or recklessly.   The Act states that the cruise line can't benefit from the limitation ". . . if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act or omission of the carrier done with the intent to cause such damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that such damages would probably result."

Addressing this plain language, Senior Judge James Lawrence King ruled that the Athens Convention does not apply for "intentional torts."  Because the minor's claims for sexual assault and rape (as well as false imprisonment) are "intentional torts," the limits of liability contained in the Athens Convention do not apply. 

The attorney for the child is Jason Margulies.  The defense lawyer for Oceania Cruises is William Clair of Hill Betts & Nash.

This case should be an eye opener for most cruisers.  Yes, there are many cruises where crewmembers rape children.  Take a moment and read:

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

Should Travel Agents Be Liable For Falsely Representing That Cruises Are Safe For Kids?

Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Top Ten Reasons Not To Cruise: No. 1 - Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

Cruise lines like Oceania Cruises will do everything they can to avoid paying reasonable compensation when rapes occur, even when their ship employees rape the children of their guests. 

 

Photo credit:  CruiseLineFans.com

Princess Cruises Crew Member Acquited of Rape Charges in Bermuda

The Royal Gazette in Bermuda reports that a judge in Bermuda dismissed the sexual assault charges leveled against a "41-year-old Filipino national" by a "26-year-old Filipino woman" who worked with him on a Bermuda registered cruise ship. 

Readers will recall that in a previous article two weeks ago, we reported that Filipino crew member Johnwill Reyes Abdon allegedly assaulted a younger crew member aboard the Caribbean Princess (photo), a Bermuda-registered vessel, on December 28, 2010.  We were critical of the Royal Gazette for not publishing the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the incident allegedly took place or identifying the name of the crew member who committed the alleged crime.  The newspaper responded by stating that Bermuda law reportedly prohibits the disclosure of a Princess Cruises - Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship defendant's name in a rape trial, and then argued that the disclosure of the name of the cruise line or cruise ship would somehow lead to the disclosure of the name of the defendant.  (The ironic thing is that we learned the name of the crew member because another newspaper in Bermuda, the Bermuda Sun, published the crew member's name and then retracted it after we published our article.) 

There is no such prohibition under U.S. law in naming rape suspects, and it serves no public purpose to hide the names of corporations, vessels or maritime employers in cases like this.  It should be noted that Princess Cruises flies the flag-of-convenience of Bermuda and is incorporated in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

The newspaper in Bermuda reports that Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner explained his decision to dismiss the charges by pointing out that the alleged victim did not make an allegation of sexual assault until after realizing that she was pregnant.  According to the newspaper, the judge also said: “In all the circumstances, I am not satisfied that the complainant did not consent, and that the defendant did not have an honest and reasonable belief that it was consensual.”  (I have read this double-negative sentence several times and am not sure what this means).

We have written about rapes and sexual alleged assaults on Princess Cruises before: Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships.

The last sex assault trial against a Princess crew member occurred in Los Angeles Federal Court in November 2009.  A U.S. jury acquitted a headwaiter, Jorge Manuel Teixeira (from Portugal), of sexually assaulting a U.S. passenger during a cruise last March between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, while the ship was at sea off the coast of Mexico.

The last article we published regarding sexual criminal conduct on the Princess fleet of ships involved the captain of a Princess cruise ship who admitted to molesting a child. 

 

Photo credit:  courtesy of wirralwater's Flickr page (via Wikimedia Commons)

Cruise Rape Case Begins - Bermuda Press Tries to Conceal Connection to Princess Cruises

Today the Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda is reporting on the beginning of a criminal trial in Bermuda where a 40 year old crew member is accused of raping a female crew member on a cruise ship flagged in the Bermuda.

The newspaper reports that the case involves a crew member who is accused of raping a younger crew member.  The newspaper does not identify the name of the accused crew member althought it states that both crew members are Filipino nationals who worked on the same vessel."  The newspaper does not even name the cruise line or the cruise ship.

Rape - Sexual Assault - Caribbean Princess - Princess CruisesLast month we reported that the alleged crime occurred on a Princess cruise ship and Filipino crew member Johnwill Reyes Abdon, age 40, was the Princess Cruises crew member who allegedly committed the crime.

The incident occurred on the Caribbean Princess, a Bermuda-registered vessel, on December 28, 2010.

It is not unusual for the press in the flag state to try and conceal the name of the cruise line, the cruise ship and the cruise line employee involved in alleged crimes like this, in order to avoid embarrassment to its cruise line customer.  

The 26-year-old crew member became pregnant after the incident.  She testified that Ms. Abdon sexually assaulted her.   Ms. Abdon denied the charges and said that the  encounter was consensual. 

As we previously reported, sexual assaults on cruise ships are common, notwithstanding the efforts of the cruise industry to convince the public otherwise.  We attended five Congressional hearings since 2005 where Congress was provided with evidence of literally hundreds of incidents of sexual assaults on cruises. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein studied cruise crime statistics provided to the U.S. Congress and concluded that passengers run nearly twice the risk of being sexually assaulted aboard a ship than they do on land.

We have written about rapes on Princess Cruises before in articles:  Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships and Princess Cruises Sexual Assault Trial Begins.

The unusual thing about this case is that the police in Bermuda (where the ship is flagged) actually traveled to South Florida and arrested crew member Abdon, and then flew him to Bermuda to face the charges.  Getting the local police from the flag state to arrest crew members on cruise ships around the world is rare.  Extremely rare. 

Whether a jury in Bermuda will convict a Filipino crew member who commits a crime against another Filipino crew member seems questionable.  Given the deplorable conviction rate aboard foreign flagged cruise ships in Princess Cruises' fleet, it is questionable that Mr. Abdon will receive jail time - even if he committed the crime.  Heck, the press in Bermuda will not even mention that one of the cruise ships flagged in Bermuda is even the location of the alleged crime. 

 

Photo credit:  raflucgr.ra.funpic.de

Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau - Are Royal Caribbean and Senor Frog's to Blame?

A horrific crime occurred in Nassau involving a twenty-four year old Canadian woman cruising to the Bahamas. 

"Jane Doe" (whose name is being withheld to protect her confidentiality) cruised aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas from Miami, leaving February 21st.   Jane Doe sailed with her father and friends.  The cruise ship docked in Nassau on February 23rd. 

While ashore the group ended up at Senor Frog's, a popular local bar, early in the evening.  Senor Frogs is located at the end of a promenade called the "Woods Rogers Walk," near the Straw Market, close to the wharf where the cruise ships dock. 

Senor Frog's - Sexual Assault - Nassau Bahamas After leaving the bar to head back to the cruise ship, the young woman was viciously attacked and sustained physical injuries.  Looking for help, Jane Doe was then sexually assaulted by a second man (pretending to be a good samaritan) who raped her.  She treated in a local hospital in Nassau and then eventually flew home to Canada to recover.

The high crime rate in Nassau is an issue which I have written about frequently on this blog.  We have represented and written about many cruise passengers raped or robbed at gun point in Nassau.  The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime and violence.  

Cruise lines are legally obligated to warn passengers of crimes in the ports of call where the cruise ships sail.  Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean do not warn of violence against passengers before disembarking them in Nassau, although the U.S. State Department does.  A year ago,  I was interviewed by Time Magazine in the article "Cruise-Ship Port Call: Gauging Crime in the Bahamas."  I also  wrote an article warning about violence against women in bars ashore in Nassau.  The article is entitled Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe? 

In response to the article, we received a letter from Senor Frog's requesting the: 

".  .  .  immediate removal of our front entrance picture and name from your website. We feel that your website has a negative impact togards (sic) our facility and our pictures and name has been used causing damage to our name and reputation, regardless of the crime in the bahamas.  Senor Frogs Restaurant is a serious stablishment (sic) pro-security we have daily security staff plus the fact that our location is just 1 minute walking distance to a police station our staff always ensure that customers are safe and having a good time we have zero tolerance to crime or disrespectful manners."   

Needless to say, we did not retract the reference to Senor Frog's or omit the photo. 

We requested a comment from Senor Frog's about this latest incident, and a copy of its response is referenced below. 

We also contacted Royal Caribbean for a statement but have received no response. 

Below is our article dated March 14, 2010, "Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?"

The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning of dangers while traveling to the Bahamas, including sexual assaults on cruise ships in the port in Nassau:

Nassau Bahamas - Crime - Cruise Passengers"CRIME: The Bahamas has a high crime rate .  .  .  the U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged."  

This type of warning, although certainly warranted, is not what the Bahamas wants to hear.  Nassau is a preferred port of call for many cruise ships, which line up like cars in a crowded parking lot.  

Today's the headline in the Washington Post's travel section is also not what the Bahamas or the cruise lines which sail there wanted to hear: "Violent Crime Is Up In The Bahamas"  Here is a portion of the article:

"Bahamas-bound travelers, beware.

Crime in the popular tourist destination is on the upswing, especially on New Providence Island, where the capital city, Nassau, is located. And we're not talking just petty thefts or purse-snatching, but far more serious violent crime.

This island nation finished 2009 with a record 87 murders -- a statistic tourism officials probably won't be trumpeting in their next "It's Better in the Bahamas" ad  .  .  .

The criminal activity has prompted the operators of the world's largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, to warn its passengers to "be mindful of their personal safety," the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported  .   .   .

Some Bahamians attribute the crime wave to high unemployment (hovering around 15 percent on Senor Frog's - Nassau Bahamas - Alcohol - Rape New Providence Island, according to the Guardian) and the nation's status as a gathering spot for drug traffickers."

We have warned passengers cruising to Nassau about crime for the past 6 months:

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau 

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

The problem with crime in Nassau is real.  Many passengers let their guard down and think Nassau is safe for no reason other than the cruise line is sailing there.  But we have represented passengers raped in Nassau, passengers raped on cruise ships in the port in Nassau, and multiple passengers robbed in Nassau.   

A major problem is when young women go into Nassau and drink at the popular bars near where the cruise ships dock.  Many women have been sexually assaulted after leaving the bar even though it is a short distance from the cruise ships.  The cruise lines do not provide security at the port nor do they warn about the dangers of date rape drugs and sexual assaults while in Nassau.

The U.S. Department of State warns about young women being sexually assaulted after leaving the cruise ships in Nassau:  

"Visitors should exercise caution and good judgment at all times.  Engaging in high-risk behavior such as excessive consumption of alcohol can ultimately be dangerous as it greatly increases the vulnerability of an individual to accidents or opportunistic crime.  Visitors should not accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers."   

March 9, 2011 Update:  Senor Frog's in Nassau sent us a statement today  - please read: Senor Frog's Comments on Crime Against Cruise Passenger in Nassau.

August 15, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean Passenger Reports Rape at Senor Frog's in Cozumel.

September 8, 2012 Update:  Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Cruise Lines Have Duty to Warn of Danger of Crime in Ports of Call - a federal appellate court re-instates a lawsuit against a cruise line for not warning its passengers of danger in St. Thomas. The case involved a 15 year old girl who was celebrating her quinceanera with her parents and brother on a Carnival cruise. A gang-related shoot out ended up with the girl being killed.     

 

Credits:

Top photo - interior of Senor Frog's looking at cruise ships    

Middle photo - Oasis of the Seas - Nassau Bahamas Press

Bottom photo - Senor Frogs Casch52 Flickr photostream

Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?

The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning of dangers while traveling to the Bahamas, including sexual assaults on cruise ships in the port in Nassau:

Nassau Bahamas - Crime - Cruise Passengers"CRIME: The Bahamas has a high crime rate .  .  .  the U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged."  

This type of warning, although certainly warranted, is not what the Bahamas wants to hear.  Nassau is a preferred port of call for many cruise ships, which line up like cars in a crowded parking lot.  

Today's the headline in the Washington Post's travel section is also not what the Bahamas or the cruise lines which sail there wanted to hear: "Violent Crime Is Up In The Bahamas"  Here is a portion of the article:

"Bahamas-bound travelers, beware.

Crime in the popular tourist destination is on the upswing, especially on New Providence Island, where the capital city, Nassau, is located. And we're not talking just petty thefts or purse-snatching, but far more serious violent crime.

This island nation finished 2009 with a record 87 murders -- a statistic tourism officials probably won't be trumpeting in their next "It's Better in the Bahamas" ad  .  .  .

The criminal activity has prompted the operators of the world's largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, to warn its passengers to "be mindful of their personal safety," the Nassau Guardian Senor Frogs - Nassau Bahamas - Alcohol - Sexual Assault newspaper reported  .   .   .

Some Bahamians attribute the crime wave to high unemployment (hovering around 15 percent on New Providence Island, according to the Guardian) and the nation's status as a gathering spot for drug traffickers."

We have warned passengers cruising to Nassau about crime for the past 6 months:

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau 

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

The problem with crime in Nassau is real.  Many passengers let their guard down and think Nassau is safe for no reason other than the cruise line is sailing there.  But we have represented passengers raped in Nassau, passengers raped on cruise ships in the port in Nassau, and multiple passengers robbed in Nassau.   

A major problem is when young women go into Nassau and drink at the popular bars near where the cruise ships dock.  Many women have been sexually assaulted after leaving the bar even though it is a short distance from the cruise ships.  The cruise lines do not provide security at the port nor do they warn about the dangers of date rape drugs and sexual assaults while in Nassau.

The U.S. Department of State warns about young women being sexually assaulted after leaving the cruise ships in Nassau:  

"Visitors should exercise caution and good judgment at all times.  Engaging in high-risk behavior such as excessive consumption of alcohol can ultimately be dangerous as it greatly increases the vulnerability of an individual to accidents or opportunistic crime.  Visitors should not accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers."   

Nassau Bahamas - Crime - Cruise Passengers

 

Credits:

Oasis of the Seas - Nassau          Bahamas Press

Senor Frogs                                      Casch52 Flickr photostream

Cruise ships in Nassau                 Elenor Snow

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

A Canadian newspaper reports that a crew member from Indonesia will soon find out whether he will serve additional jail time for possession of child pornography. Crew member Hendri Dharmawan, age 29, was working as a pastry chef on the Carnival Triumph when he was arrested September 1 in Halifax.  He has been in a Nova Scotia jail for the past five weeks after pleadings guilty to the child porn charges.

The crew member was caught with pornography on his iPhone as he returned to the Carnival cruise ship.  The border police then accompanied him back to his cabin where they discovered over two hours of child pornography on Dharmawan's laptop and external hard drive. The footage depicted girls as young as eight and boys as young as 10 being abused.

This type of story should serve as a wake up to parents who take their children on cruises.  Yes, there are sexual deviants and predators on cruise ships. We have had too many cases where unsuspecting parents leave their kids in the cabin when they go to the casino, or stay late at the disco. While the parents are gone, a cabin attendant enters the cabin with his pass key. Let's skip the details. Trust me, leaving a 12 year old boy or his 14 year old sister alone in a cabin is a bad idea.

Cruise lines suggest that the crew members are carefully screened before they are hired.  Nonsense.  First of all, the cruise line themselves do not perform background checks at all. They rely on the hiring agents around the world to perform all of the "screening."  But what type of background check can be performed in countries like Nicaragua, Trinidad, or India?  These places do not have computerized databases for drivers licenses or social security numbers much less a database for criminals or a tracking system for sexual predators.  Many of the hiring agencies who are suppose to be conducting background checks are paid commissions when they place employees on cruise ships.  There is a disincentive to keep the bad apples off of the cruise ships.  

If a crew member molests your child on the cruise ship, don't expect the cruise line to believe your child.  Cruise lines have a notorious and well earned reputation of covering up crimes.  Their priority too often is defending the crew members and their own marketing image. 

There is also the danger of other passengers abusing your children.  A cruise ship presents the same dangers as your home town.  You can read about the problem of  sexual assault of teenagers and child abuse during cruises here.