Senator Rockefeller Convenes Another Hearing to Protect Cruise Passengers

Senator John D. Rockefeller has scheduled another hearing to address legislation designed to protect cruise passengers. The hearing is scheduled for next week.

The hearing is scheduled for July 23, 2014 at 2:30 PM before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in 253 Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. (Some media sources erroneously report the hearing is scheduled for July 22nd).  

The hearing is titled “The Cruise Passenger Protection Act: Improving Consumer Protections for Senator Rockefeller Cruise CrimeCruise Passengers.” 

Senator Rockefeller has presided over hearings about the cruise lines in 2012 and 2013 following the Costa Concordia disaster and the Carnival Triumph fiasco. We attended both hearings. You can read our coverage of the hearings in our prior articles:

Senate Hearing on Cruise Industry Accountability Reveals Less Than 3% of Cruise Ship Crimes are Revealed to the Public

Senator Rockefeller Blasts Cruise Industry: "You Are A World Unto Yourselves"

Senator Rockefeller introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act on July 23, 2013, in order to involve the Department of Transportation into overseeing the cruise industry and to provide greater protection to cruise consumers. The Senator announced that he intended to “close gaps in cruise industry consumer awareness and crime reporting."

At the last hearing, the cruise lines promised to voluntarily disclose crimes which occur on cruise ships, in response to Senator Rockefeller's request for transparency by the cruise industry. The cruise lines announced this last minute measure to stave off legislation. Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines has refused to disclose all crimes against its crew members and guests over the course of the last year. 

Carnival has been particularly sneaky. It lumps crimes on all of its cruise ships (Carnival, Cunard, Holland America Line, etc.) into one category.  By doing so, it is impossible for consumers to learn how many crimes occur on which ships or even which brands. This is an effort to trick the public from not realizing that by far most crimes occur on Carnival ships.

The cruise lines have failed to re-write their passenger contracts to provide consumers with certain consumer protections that they promised to Senator Rockefeller that they would provide to the public. There is a big difference between what the cruise lines are telling the Senators at these hearings and what their defense lawyers are trying to enforce in a court of law.

Senator Rockefeller has rightfully pointed out that the cruise lines pay no federal U.S. taxes but rely heavily on the federal agencies to conduct their business.   

Don't forget to read: Senator Rockefeller to Cruise Lines: You Can't Operate for Free in the U.S.

 

Photo Credit:  Jim Walker

Sexual Assault on Cruise Ship in St. Kitts? No One's Talking

Today the SKNVibes newspaper in St. Kitts reports that a crew member aboard a cruise ship docked in St. Kitts (Port Zante) sexually assaulted a cruise passenger.

You can read the article below.

It's a strange article.  The newspaper decided not to name the cruise line or the cruise ship, which is something we see in a few other countries where the local press prefer not to embarrass the cruise lines.

Carnival Valor Cruise ShipThe newspaper also contacted the police department which would not comment whether a rape occurred on the unidentified cruise ship or not.

Earlier this year we named St. Kitts as one of the top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world.  We also reported on a sexual assault of a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger during an excursion in St. Kitts two years ago,

The article is below:

" . . .  the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force is making investigations into an incident of assault that occurred on a cruise vessel which was berthed at Porte Zante yesterday (Jun. 6).

Unconfirmed reports suggest that an act of sexual assault may have been perpetrated against one of the cruise passengers by one of the vessel’s crew members.

SKNVibes understands that the authorities on St. Kitts were made aware of the situation and investigations had begun.

The Police Force’s Press and Public Relations Officer Inspector Lyndon David - when contacted by this publication and questioned about this issue - declared that he could not confirm or deny at that moment.

And he promised to look into the matter."

June 8 2014 Update: A reader pointed out that the Carnival Valor was in port at St. Kitts on June 6 2014.

June 10 2014: The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer reports "Cruise Ship Employee Charged With Rape." This newspaper states that the Carnival Valor was in fact the cruise ship in port (Port Zante). It says that St. Kitts police took a crew member into custody the day of the report of the sexual assault and that the Valor left port later than its scheduled time due to the incident.

The Observer understands the individual was charged with the offense over the weekend following the arrest on a Friday.

Upon questioning the local police would say nothing other than “someone has been charged for an incident.”

The newspaper also says that it is "not known if the alleged offence was committed while the vessel was docked, however the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force has jurisdiction to investigate and/or arrest once a crime has been reported in sovereign waters or airspace."   

June 15 2014 Update: A radio station in St. Kitts states that the local police in St. Kitts has finally acknowledged that a crew member from the Carnival Valor was arrested on charges of raping a cruise passenger while the cruise ship was in territorial waters of the island. However, the police still refuses to release the alleged assailant's name.  The radio station says: 

"In St. Kitts and Nevis, the names of persons accused of sexual offenses against minors are not released, however WINN FM is not aware that those charged with offences against adults are withheld by the authorities."

 

 

Photo Credit: sknclt.com

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

Former Royal Caribbean Crew Member, Acquitted of Raping Passenger, Wins Unlawful Detention Lawsuit Against the Bahamas

The Nassau Guardian published an article yesterday about a former Royal Caribbean crew member, Ruel Lockwood, previously employed as a stateroom attendant, who was accused of raping a young woman on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas cruise ship during a cruise to Nassau in 2006.

The crew member entered the college student's cabin with a key card, which he used to enter cabins to clean them.

The jury in the Nassau, Bahamas acquitted the crew member of the rape in the criminal case, although Nassau Bahamas CourthouseRoyal Caribbean paid $1,500,000.00 to settle the civil case which we filed here in Miami.

After crew member Lockwood was acquitted, he remained in jail for 4 days in Nassau. For that, he sued the Bahamas for "unlawful detention."

The Bahamian judge entered the order of acquittal on November 19, 2007, but immigration officials kept him in jail until November 23, 2007. The immigration officials contended that the cruise line did not complete the travel arrangements for Lockwood until November 23rd. However, Lockwood contended that Royal Caribbean had a ticket for him to fly home to Nicaragua earlier but the immigration officials refused to release his passport and kept him in jail unnecessarily. 

In 2011, Lockwood filed a civil case against the Bahamas for the extra days he stayed in jail. Yesterday the Bahamian trial court found that Lockwood should have been released by November 21st and awarded him compensation and legal costs to be determined at a later date.

We wrote about this weird situation back in 2011.  Lockwood spent approximately a year in a Bahamian jail for the alleged rape. But after the immigration officials and/or Royal Caribbean screwed up, Lockwood will receive compensation for 2 days. I wonder what a Bahamian judge will think that's worth?

WKMG Local 6 (Orlando): "A Former Disney Cruise Officer Speaks Out"

Tonight an Orlando television station is airing an interview with a former Disney Cruise Line security officer about her experiences working aboard Disney cruise ships.

WKMG (Orlando) has released a short preview of the interview on a Facebook page. The program tonight is entitled "Exposed - Crimes Going Unreported."

The interview was conducted by WKMG reporter Mike DeForest. The Facebook page states:

"I speak exclusively with a former Disney Cruise Line Security Officer. She'll expose the Disney Cruise - Sexual Assaultcrime she saw while working on the inside, and share info you and your family need to know before sailing."

WKMG has been the leader in reporting on cases where Disney cruise line employees have sexually molested girls during cruises. 

Last year, WKMG reported on a 33 year old Disney waiter sexually assaulted an 11 year old girl. Even though the crime occurred at the port in Cape Canaveral in Florida waters, Disney refused to report it to U.S. law enforcement and sailed the cruise ship to the Bahamas where Disney flew the sexual predator back to India.

This year, a 36 year old Disney cabin attendant sexually molested a 13 year old girl aboard the Disney Dream.

Hopefully this former Disney security officer can shed some insight into the case where Disney refused to report the child molester to the police in the U.S. 

I will be posting the interviews when they become public. Update: Watch the complete video here: Disney Dream Child Molestation Case: Staff Captain Instructed Security Officer Not to Contact U.S. Law Authorities.

 

 

U.S. Girl Strangled, Sexually Assaulted in the Bahamas

Bahamas Sexual AssaultThe day after we listed the Bahamas as the number one most dangerous cruise destination in the world, a newspaper reports that a "17 year old American girl was left traumatised after she was strangled to near unconsciousness and forced to perform a sexual act" on a 41 year old Bahamian man on San Salvador island. 

San Salvador is one of the out islands of the Bahamas. 

The Tribune newspaper says that the girl was riding her bicycle in the dock area of Cockburn Town Monday morning when the man emerged from the bushes, forcing her to perform oral sex on him. 

Cockburn Town is the capital of San Salvador Island.  

The newspaper also says that the girl's parents recently purchased a vacation home on the island.

The man reportedly has a mental disability and was accused of a similar act when he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman tourist at a Club Med resort.  

The man is in police custody in Nassau.  

The newspapers in the Bahamas are not bashful in reporting crimes like this.  Unlike many countries in the Caribbean which have a tendency to avoid or under-report crimes against U.S. citizens out of fear of affecting adversely affecting tourism, the Bahamas has a reputation of having a diligent and transparent press (like the Tribune below).

Bahamas Sexual Assault

Cruise Nightmare: Disney Crew Member Arrested on Charges of Molesting Child on Disney Dream

Ahmed Sofyan - Disney Cruise MolestationNews sources in Florida are reporting that the Port Canaveral Police Department arrested a 36 year old Disney crew member today on charges of molesting a 13 year old girl on the Disney Dream cruise ship.

Florida Today states that "the Port Canaveral Police Department has arrested a Disney Cruise Line crew member today for alleged lewd or lascivious molestation of a minor."

WKMG Orlando, which has been a leader in covering cruise ship crimes, identifies the Disney crew member accused of molesting the 13-year-old girl as Ahmed Sofyan, age 36, of Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment.

The alleged incident occurred aboard the Disney Dream ship while it was docked in Port Canaveral this morning. 

The Port Canaveral Police Department says that at approximately 8:12 AM, Canaveral Port Authority Police responded to the request of Disney Cruise Lines regarding a lewd or lascivious molestation that occurred aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship while docked at terminal 8 in Port Canaveral. Upon conclusion of the investigation, crew member Ahmed Sofyan (DOB: 07/22/77) of Jakarta, Indonesia, was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment. The victim was a 13-year-old female not known to the suspect.

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

Indonesian crew members have received bad press lately.  In February an Indonesian crew member on a HAL cruise ship was arrested in a horrific case where he tried to kill and throw a passenger overboard from the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Sexual assaults against children is an issue we have discussed many times on this blog.  In 2010, we reported on a situation - Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship 

A news report from WKMG on the latest Disney Cruises child molestation case is below: 

Have a thought about this case?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

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Travel Crime Warning: Tourists Assaulted, Robbed & Terrorized in Roatan, Honduras

Roatan Honduras MapIn January we reported on an incident in Roatan where a U.S. family's rental car was shot up while on a beach access road. The family of four (with two children) were robbed at gunpoint and terrorized. The family had arrived in Roatan via a Carnival cruise ship.

This violent crime followed a warning issued in December 2013 by the the U.S. Department of State warning. You can read the warning here. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. As I mentioned in our prior article, the warning indicates that "the vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved; of the 50 murders committed against U.S. citizens since 2008, police have only solved two."

This past week we have received complaints from tourists and cruise visitors to Roatan. One woman from the U.S. was attacked after she traveled to Roatan to dive.  Here are her comments:

"I ..i am female..came to roatan to dive and was basically attacked by 3 local men on this island. They assaulted me then robbed me..holding a knife to my neck. I heard them discussing kidnapping me for a ransom..or selling me to a slave market...to be taken out by boat. I got away when another tourist group drove by with several guys in the car. They saved my life. No one should go to this God forsaken island. I have learned a scary and nearly life ending lesson."

Another U.S. woman informed us that she and her two children (boys 15 and 16 years old) were robbed during a private excursion to a beach. They were held at gun point and knifepoint and robbed of all of their valuables. The woman, a single mother, stated that the cruise line, Royal Caribbean, did not warn them that there is a crime problem in Roatan or, in particular, armed robbery at the roads to and from the beaches in Roatan which seems to be a particular problem. The incident occured, according to the woman, at an access road to Palm Beach. 

In addition to these two recent incidents which were reported directly to us by the victims, concerned expatriate U.S. citizens living in Roatan have told us about armed robbery on the island, mainly against people riding in taxi's or driving on beach access roads. We have learned that a taxi with four cruise passengers was recently stopped by two local men at Palm Beach. The men held a knife to a woman's Roatan Honduras Crime - Cruise Passengersthroat and pointed a gun at a man's head. One robber reportedly fired a shot into the taxi. The men stole the cruise tourists' money, cell phones, cameras and other items. 

After our article in January, we received comments from U.S. and Canadians living in Roatan that it was unfair to lump the island of Roatan with the mainland of Honduras as a dangerous place to live or visit. Some property owners who have invested in real estate in Roatan under the hope and belief that they would live in a slice of paradise may be second guessing themselves considering what appears to be increasing violence against people arriving from North America.

Some people don't like us to write articles like this, arguing that "crime occurs everywhere" or just "use common sense." But all of the victims who contacted us were using common sense and doing what people normally do while on a vacation.  The point is that certain types of crime occur more often in certain places than others. The problem is that criminals in these poor countries are targeting U.S. passengers with iPhones, cameras, jewelry and cash. The New York Times recently published an article about crime problems in Roatan: Security Concerns on a Honduran Island.

From our view, there appears to be a rising tide of crime against cruise passengers throughout the Caribbean ports. Honduras and the Bahamas are the only countries we know with port facilities which are the subject of warnings about crime from the U.S. State Department. 

The cruise industry just convened their annual trade show, Cruise Shipping Miami, with much fanfare on Miami Beach. A delegation came from Honduras, promoting Roatan. I wonder what, if any, discussions the delegates from the Caribbean islands had with the cruise lines about keeping cruise passengers safe? 

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Read our prior article about crime in Roatan.

 

Map & photo credit: Top - Global Healing; Bottom - Jim Walker. 

Cruise Industry Launches False Crime Statistics Campaign

After the Costa Concordia capsized, travel agents began telling their clients that such incidents were "rare" and that cruising was "absolutely safe." Some travel agents went as far as to claim that the last time a cruise ship sank was over a 100 years ago when the Titanic struck an iceberg.

Of course this was false. But the travel agents were repeating the talking points issued by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This was part of a campaign by CLIA to assure the public that cruising was safe and sound. You can read about the false and misleading campaign by the cruise industry here: Six Lies The Cruise Lines Will Tell You After The Costa Concordia Crash.

Holland America LineIt seems like the cruise industry is now back at work spreading falsehoods again.

Following the vicious rape, beating and attempted murder of the 31 year old passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL's president Stein Kruse released a statement claiming that "no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history."

Of course this is false too. Just last month a 18 year old girl was raped by an officer on the Amsterdam cruise ship, according to an article written by another lawyer here in Miami who represents victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.

The official Coast Guard portal also reveals that there recently have been reported rapes of women on HAL cruise ships, including assaults committed by crew members. 

The sexual assault of women and children is a problem which the cruise industry avoids discussing. When pressed to mention the issue, the cruise lines always say that sexual assaults are "rare." 

A year and a half ago, I wrote an article revealing 23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months. I have also mentioned that Royal Caribbean reportedly experienced 24 sexual assaults during the same year. 

But the cruise lines will never acknowledge the true numbers. In its press releases, the cruise industry invariably fudges the numbers.  The cruise lines were successful in altering the language of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act such that only those cruise ship crimes reported to and closed by the FBI needed to be disclosed to the public. The problem was that not all cruise ship crimes are reported to the FBI and the FBI keeps most files open.

The result is that only a tiny portion of cruise ship crimes is ever publicly disclosed, according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee. Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI for a 18 month period in 2011 and 2012, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In addition to the cover-up of crimes, the cruise lines have been adept at keeping the cause of cruise ship disappearances secret. 

HAL has been unable to explain why the last five passengers who disappeared from HAL cruise ships Cruise Ship Crimewent overboard. Several of these passengers were women who disappeared from their cabins. HAL always seems to argue that the passengers committed suicide.

If the 31 year old woman recently victimized on the Nieuw Amsterdam had not fought her attacker off, and she disappeared during the cruise, what would HAL be saying about her now? Would it accuse her of committing suicide? Would the violent crime become just a "mystery?" A cruise line capable of a whopper like there-has-been-no-woman-attacked-for-140-years is capable of saying anything.

The cruise lines are relying on the CLIA travel agents to relay their false crime statistics and misleading opinions to the public. Travel Pulse just published "Agents: The Front Line In Telling the Real Cruise Story."

The travel publication says:

"Another week and another negative story hits the consumer media in regards to cruising. The latest issue involved a crewmember who is accused of raping and beating a passenger on board a Holland America Line charter.

It’s another challenge for the cruise lines, but an even bigger one for the travel agents who are on the front lines.

                                                     *              *            *             *

Despite what you might see or hear in the consumer media, travelers should seek out the insights and advice of a professional travel agent. They’ll get the true story, and the real numbers, when it comes to that particular story." (Emphasis added)

So what is the "truth" that the cruise lines and travel agents want us to believe in order to buy cruises from them?  

What is the "true story" about the HAL crew member who was, as the travel publication puts it, "accused" of "raping and beating" the passenger?  He has already confessed to raping as well as beating, choking and attempting to murder the poor woman who he tried to throw into the sea.  

And what are the "real numbers?" Do the travel agents really want us to believe that the last time a ship sank before the Concordia was the Titanic in 1912? And there had never been a prior rape of a passenger by a crew member on a HAL cruise ship for 140 years dating back to 1874?    

A travel agent that repeats the tall tales and skewed crime statistics of the cruise lines to their clients, tells them to ignore the media stories (like CNN), and represents that cruising is absolutely safe has a good chance of being sued for fraud if their clients are victimized.  

 

Photo Credit: Nieuw Amsterdam Wikipedia / Cybergoth

Cruise Passenger Sexually Assaulted In Freeport, Bahamas

KTAS - ABC television reports on an undergraduate from Texas who was assaulted while ashore in the Bahamas during a Carnival cruise.

The young woman states that she wanted to smoke marijuana during her stop over in Freeport, but she was assaulted while in port. 

The story was previously reported by WKMG.

The Bahamas is one country where crimes in general and sexual assaults in particular pose a substantial danger to cruise ship passengers. We have written many times about crimes in the ports of call in the Caribbean. But a cruise passenger invites trouble trying to buy pot while ashore. 

The video also discusses that the murder rates in many of the countries in the Caribbean where the cruise lines sail have a serious problem with crime.  for example, the murder rate in St. Thomas is 10 times higher than the U.S. and the murder rate in Honduras is 20 times higher. 

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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 

Tonight on WKMG -TV 6 Orlando: "Top Cruise Spots Also Top List for Crime"

Disney Cruise Ship Crime - ChildrenTonight at 11:00 P.M. WKMG-TV 6 (CBS Orlando) will air a special report on crimes which occur during cruises, including ports of call.

Investigative producer Lauren Sweeney and investigative reporter Tony Pipitone take a look at dangers ashore in countries like the Bahamas where cruise passengers have recently been robbed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. 

We have written extensively about the high crime rate in Nassau which has led to the U.S. State Department recently issuing two warnings that crime in Nassau is "critical."  

If you are a victim of crime in a place like Nassau, unfortunately neither the local police or the cruise line will do much at all.

Last year this WKMG investigative team aired the disturbing story of a 33 year old waiter on a Disney cruise who molested an 11 year old girl. Rather than report the crime immediately to the FBI, local police in Port Canaveral, or the sheriff's office, the cruise line sailed the ship out of the U.S. port to Nassau where the police there did nothing. Disney then flew the pedophile crew member back home to India.

Photo Credit: WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando) 

The video below is a three minute introduction of the special tonight.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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.

Elderly Couple on Thomson Celebration Brutally Assaulted

A newspaper in the U.K. reports on a "dream luxury cruise turned into a holiday from hell" when an elderly couple were brutally assaulted by a fellow passenger. 

The Gazette Live states that the violent crime occurred aboard the Thomson Celebration. The woman suffered "serious spinal injuries" and her husband incurred "serious facial injuries." Both victims were taken to the hospital. 

A spokesperson for the cruise line said the assailant left the cruise after the attack, and that it "is very Thomson Celebrationsorry to hear of the injuries." 

“We would like to reassure our customers that their safety is of paramount importance and incidents such as this are extremely rare.”

Cases like this never cease to amaze me.

Instead of apprehending the assailant and confining him to the brig or secluding him to his cabin under the watch of a guard, the cruise line lets him disembark and escape justice. Invariably, the cruise line's PR team expresses condolences and claims that the crime is "rare."

In my opinion, the captains and security officers of cruise ships which permit assailants to flee justice should be arrested for aiding and abetting a criminal.

The cruise ship sailed from Santa Cruz in Tenerife to exotic ports like Las Palmas, Santa Cruz, Funchal and Agadir in Morocco.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / ozgurmulazimoglu

Lawsuit Allegations: Carnival Security Guard Roughs Up 14 Year Old

Carnival Cruise Lawsuit A local news station WSVN - 7 reports on a lawsuit filed by a South Florida family after their son was allegedly beaten up by a security guard on board an unidentified Carnival cruise ship.

The lawsuit contends that a 14 year-old boy snuck into a nightclub on the cruise ship with his friends. When spotted by security, the boy ran out of the club and into a stairwell where he claims that the security guard roughed him up. He says the guard "grabs me by the shirt, slams me like really heard against the wall." 

The family's lawyer, Spencer Aronfeld, sued Carnival because the family wants the security guard fired and to prevent another family from going through a similar experience.  Aronfeld is seeking damages for what he claims are serious neurological and psychological damages suffered by the boy. 

Expect a vigorous defense by Carnival.

Have a thought? Leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: 7 - News / WSVN

 

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.

Cruise Industry Article "Safe at Sea" Misses the Boat

Cruise Ship Crime - PornographyA criminologist for the cruise industry, Dr. James Alan Fox, published an article earlier this week which contains a great deal of unsubstantiated and misleading opinions about crime on cruise ships. 

The cruise industry routinely hires Dr. Fox when Congress scrutinizes the cruise lines for not honestly reporting crimes. The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) paid Dr. Fox to comment on select crime data to try and and stave off mandatory cruise reporting legislation proposed by Senator Rockefeller.

Dr. Fox's subsequent article, published in a Boston newspaper, is entitled "Safe at Sea." He cites five "factors" which he says support CLIA's claim that cruising is safe. You can read my criticisms below his comments: 

1. "Cruise passengers are hardly a cross-section of be U.S. population," Dr. Fox says. He argues that the "age distribution" and "socio-economic standing" of the typical cruise line passenger tends "to limit the number of passengers with criminal intent."

Dr. Fox does not explain what specific types of U.S. citizens are more likely to board a cruise ship with "criminal intent." And I don't know how he could possibly know that. The limited crime data disclosed by the cruise lines doesn't provide the age, race, social status or economic standing of either the victim or the assailant such that anyone could determine who is the most likely person to commit a crime on a cruise ship.  

Cruise Ship Crime - RapeDr. Fox also does not identify any type of methodology or scientific analysis he conducted to arrive at his conclusions. The "factors" he cites are subjective opinions which mirror the press releases of the cruise industry which paid him in the first place. 

In my experience representing in excess of a hundred cruise victims over the years, cruise passengers are victimized by a wide variety of criminals of all ages, races, ethnicities, social groups and economic backgrounds. They are no different than perverts ashore. 

Carnival's $399-a-week for a "fun ship" cruise has opened up cruises to the masses which includes both good and bad people. Carnival's Micky Arison commented in an article I wrote about the problem of violence during cruises - Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships. Carnival's former CEO acknowledges that violence is a by-product of cheap cruise tickets which attract a more diverse group of passengers:

Cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.”

Cruise Ship Crime - PervertFrom my perspective, the "wider audience" includes a large slice of perverts, porn addicts, pedophiles, molesters, rapists, drunken brawlers, murderers, serial rapists, and even serial killers from across the U.S. And don't forget that people on a cruise ship are not just a slice of U.S. citizens across the country, but a slice of people from all over the world. 

Consider for the moment the disturbing number of passengers and crew members who bring graphic child pornography onto cruise ships on their iPhones, laptops, computers and thumb drives. Look here, herehere, here and here for a small example.  Child perverts who attack children on cruise ships come in all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds, as you can see here, here, here and here. One child predator alone employed aboard Cunard cruise ships, Paul Trotter, a child counselor no less, molested at least 13 U.K. boys in the last few years. There are many other child victims. Rapists who target single women and girls come in all sizes and colors, some wearing cruise ship uniforms. Violence rare? You can watch YouTube videos all day long of drunken cruise passengers brawls which resemble gang fights that rival the meanest street in a major urban city. Yes, there are murders too, as you can see here, here, here, here and here. There are few arrests or convictions. A cruise ship seems to be the perfect place to commit the crime and get away with it. 

Cruise Ship Crime - Israel KeyesSerial killers sailing on cruise ships too? There's no way, you say. But consider this headline from FOX News just last year: "FBI: Confessed Serial Killer Boarded Cruise Ship in New Orleans," and this sensational headline from ABC News "Serial Killer's Methodical Plan to Rape and Strangle Teen, Then Go on a Cruise." The articles involve serial killer Israel Keyes who abducted, robbed, raped, strangled, and mutilated a young woman in Alaska.  The FBI says that he was involved in a number of similar crimes across the country. Following his last grisly crime, where did serial killer Keyes go on vacation? He went on two back-to-back cruises out of New Orleans.

The lesson to be learned is that when you cruise, you never know who you're cruising with. Don't be fooled for a second that there are any fewer criminals on cruise ships than anywhere else.

2. "In addition to passenger self-selection is the type of screening performed by the cruise lines themselves. While most vacation venues do background checks on prospective employees, cruise lines also submit passenger manifests to both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard for screening."

Cruise Ship Crime - PornographyCruise lines don't conduct background investigations on their employees. Hiring agents in countries like Jamaica and India are suppose to do that, but rarely do. Read our article: Do Cruise Lines Conduct Background Checks of Crew Members?  Learn what the cruise industry's pre-employment vetting of cruise ship employees is really all about.  

Yes, cruise lines send their passenger manifests to U.S. Customs & Border officials, but the federal government usually does not conduct a screening of the list until after the cruise ships sails. Lots of people with outstanding warrants get arrested, but only after the ship returns to port.

People who are on "no fly" lists on suspicion of terrorism can still board cruise ships and travel by ship when they can't fly for security reasons.  

If you think that cruise line vetting and federal officials keep rapists off cruise ships, read this blockbuster article: Most Wanted Rape Suspect Arrested On Carnival Cruise Ship - Worked As Manager Of Onboard Hair Salon.  

3.  "Passengers and crew are searched for weapons and other contraband every time they board ship. In fact, except for only extraordinary circumstances (e.g., security details protecting certain dignitaries), passengers are not permitted to carry guns, even off-duty police personnel."

Dr. Fox is correct on this one point.  Your chance of being robbed at gunpoint on a cruise ship is extremely remote. But armed robbery on a ship is not a problem and has never been debated before Cruise Ship Crime - PedophileCongress. The most likely crimes are rape and sexual assault. The most likely rapist is an employee of the cruise line. 18% of sexual assaults on cruise ships are against children. Plus, a significant number of passengers and crew go overboard without an explanation.

But as far as guns are concerned once you disembark a cruise ship into a port chosen by the cruise industry, the risk of being shot or robbed at gunpoint increases significantly. The risk is particularly high in Mexico and the Caribbean. 22 Carnival passengers from the Splendor were robbed at gunpoint in Mexico. 17 Celebrity passengers were robbed at gunpoint in St. Kitts.  A total of 29 Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in two incidents in the Bahamas which you can read about here and here. 14 NCL passengers were robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia. And to top it off a year later 55 cruise passengers and 2 crew members from the Celebrity Eclipse were robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia.  I'm sure that none of these 125 people expected to have a gun pointed at their face during their family cruise.

Cruise lines don't like to discuss the problem, but cruise lines are responsible for warning passengers of crime they know or should know about in ports where they take their guests. Courts consider Cruise Ship  Crime -- Rapeexcursions ashore to be an integral part of the cruise experience. You may never be shot on a cruise, but passengers and crew have been murdered in ports of call such as cases like this and this and this.

4.  "Although cruise ships do not have immediate access to law enforcement while at sea, the level of security and surveillance provided by the cruise lines is relatively high compared to that of many other types of vacation destinations."

Dr. Fox does not explain what "relatively high" security and surveillance means. On a typical cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew members, there are only around ten security guards and a security chief and security supervisor.  There are many hundreds of waiters, assistant waiters, bartenders, bar servers, cooks, cleaners, and stateroom attendants on a ship but relatively few guards. There are far more dancers, singers, beauticians and spa employees than security guards.  At nighttime, there may be only one or two guards making rounds and a security supervisor in his office, which is grossly inadequate given the substantial amount of alcohol sold on cruise ships and potential Cruise Ship Crime - Molestation Disney Cruisefor physical and sexual violence.

Most surveillance cameras on cruise ships are not actually manned by anyone. Some cruise lines staff the security cameras in the casinos in order to protect their money, but they don't monitor cameras positioned on the exterior decks and interior hallways. Virtually no cruise lines have state-of-the-art man overboard systems to detect passengers and crew who go overboard, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act ("CVSSA").

The biggest problem with the absence of an independent police force on cruise ships is that the ship's security personnel have a conflict of interest when crimes are committed.  Some crimes against women are committed by the ship's security personnel or officers who are far senior to the security guards. When a woman is sexually assaulted at a hotel ashore, the local police will arrive and preserve the scene and apprehend the criminals involved. On a cruise ship, the ship security will often begin to build a case against the victim to protect the crew member and the cruise line. Sometimes the cruise ship officers and staff negligently or intentionally destroy evidence making the victim's case impossible to prove.       

5. "Last, and certainly not least important, the confined space on cruise ships limits the opportunity for would-be offenders to attempt a quick getaway. They certainly can't escape apprehension by jumping overboard or making off in a stolen lifeboat."

Crew members who commit crimes don't need to jump overboard or steal a lifeboat to escape. Cruise Cruise Ship Crime - Child Molesterlines have been known to sail the cruise ship out of the jurisdiction where the crime occurs and then fly the criminal employee home from the next port of call in order to avoid prosecution. Just earlier this week, the Miami Herald wrote an editorial stating the following about an assault by a Disney employee against a girl on the Disney Dream:

"There’s another serious problem that lawmakers should address: Some cruise lines egregiously help crew members accused of sexual assault and other crimes elude prosecution. Unfortunately, it’s an old story being given new life in an awful case reported by WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando. A crew member on a Disney cruise was caught on video molesting an 11-year-old girl while the ship still was in port. Ship authorities waited a full day before reporting the crime to the FBI. By that time the ship was on its way to the Bahamas, where the alleged perpetrator was allowed to disembark, out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Disney then did the guy a further favor and flew him home to India."

Final Thoughts: Crime statistics don't tell the whole story. The more important considerations are whether the cruise lines are being truly honest with the public about crimes which occur, whatever the Cruise Ship Rapestatistics may be. True transparency by the cruise industry is the key. Unfortunately, it is sorely lacking. Cruise lines have never voluntarily released statistics of sexual crimes against children.

Cruise lines must be obligated to inform passengers about the specific types of dangers which exist on cruises. The cruise industry must be required by law to promptly report crimes when they occur. There must be penalties levied against cruise lines which delay reporting crimes or assist criminals who prey on women and children during cruises - especially if the criminals are their own employees.     

Photos:

Gary Lee Read - Child Pornography - Monarch of the Seas

Milton Braganza - Sexual assault / molestation of 11 year old girl - Disney Dream

Timothy Webb - Child Pornography - Grandeur of the Seas

Israel Keyes - Serial killer later vacationing on unknown cruise ship

Amado Nichols Hernandez - Child Pornography - Celebrity Constellation

Sherwood Stevenson - Sexual molestation of 6 year old girl - Liberty of the Seas

Casey Dickinson - Gang rape of 14 year old girl - Carnival Sensation

Lucas George - Sexual Assault of 13 year old girl - Disney Wonder

Paul Trotter - Sexual abuse of over 13 boys under age 14 - various Cunard cruise ships

Kris Herypiyanto - Rape of 14 year old girl - Carnival Freedom

Miami Herald Editorial: "Report, Punish Crime on Cruises"

The following is an editorial / opinion piece by the Miami Herald which was published tonight:

"Crime on the high seas isn’t just about illegal commercial fishing practices, drug-running and Somalian pirates. Unfortunately, it also comes in the form of sexual assault, theft and suspicious disappearances on what are supposed to be pleasure cruises.

Under pressure from Congress, specifically, a consumer-safety bill introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, the three largest cruise lines, Miami-based Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, agreed to release the data of alleged crimes reported on their ships. Combined, they make up 85 percent of the industry. The crime stats will allow potential passengers to make better-informed decisions, just as the flying public can access information on airline safety and car buyers can find out which are the most road-worthy.

The crime data’s release should also propel cruise lines to take the problem as seriously as their CEOs say they do. In South Florida, cruises are a bread-and-butter industry, boosting the economy and luring tourists back again and again.

Given the multitude of cruises that depart annually, there isn’t anything akin to a crime wave on cruise ships. However, Sen. Rockefeller is right to be perturbed by how many cruise lines handle — or fail to handle — crime reported on board. Cruise-industry leaders announced their crime-data release agreement last week during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

It’s been a rough 18 months for the cruise industry. The public has heard unsettling news of cruise ship fires, read published messages sent from frightened and beleaguered passengers adrift in the dark and, most disturbing, seen dramatic photographs of the Costa Concordia, beached off the Italian coast, lying on its side, swamped with water, 32 passengers dead. Because of the public nature of these incidents, cruise-line leaders were equally as public in taking responsibility for what went wrong.

Less so, however, when it comes to crime aboard cruises to exotic locales. Legislation in the U.S. House and Senate would require the information be made available to the public. Before, only crimes that no longer were being investigated by the FBI were made public. As a result, potential passengers only had misleading information to go on. A report showed that 130 alleged crimes in categories specified by the cruise safety act had been reported to the FBI in 2011 and 2012, but only 31 of those had been reported to the public during that time. Cruise lines reported a total of 959 alleged crimes overall to the FBI, the document says.

There’s another serious problem that lawmakers should address: Some cruise lines egregiously help crew members accused of sexual assault and other crimes elude prosecution. Unfortunately, it’s an old story being given new life in an awful case reported by WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando. A crew member on a Disney cruise was caught on video molesting an 11-year-old girl while the ship still was in port. Ship authorities waited a full day before reporting the crime to the FBI. By that time the ship was on its way to the Bahamas, where the alleged perpetrator was allowed to disembark, out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Disney then did the guy a further favor and flew him home to India.

According to the website cruiselawnews.com, “Disney was able to avoid the U.S. investigation into the incident while making certain that any investigation was handled only by the Bahamas which, theoretically can investigate shipboard crimes because Disney cruise ships fly Bahamian flags of convenience.” But the Bahamas has a lousy record of investigating such crimes.

Lawmakers must pressure guilty cruise lines to confront and end this deplorable practice. Merely reporting the number of onboard crimes brings little comfort if perpetrators are not brought to justice." 

Disney Cruise Line Sexual PredatorRead other articles regarding this problem with Disney Cruise Line:

"Sickened" By Molestation of Child on Disney Dream, Brevard County Attorney General Vows to Zealously Prosecute Cruise Ship Crimes

Images of a Disney Nightmare: Are Your Kids Safe Sailing With Disney?

Did Disney Cruise Line Really Sail a Crime Scene from the U.S. to Nassau? International Press Focuses on Disney Child Molestation Case
 

"Voluntary" Cruise Crime Statistics Keep Public in the Dark

Cruise Ship CrimeCBS travel expert Peter Greenberg has interesting comments on the recent crime statistics released by the three major cruise lines.

Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean posted 237 crimes which allegedly took place on their cruise ship over the last 2 to 3 years. This is the first time that the cruise industry has ever publicly posted their onboard crime statistics.

The information, however, is very limited.  The cruise lines do not mention the name of the cruise ship, or the date of the incident, or where the incident is alleged to have occurred or any explanation regarding what happened. The companies also do not disclose whether the victim is a child.

Legislation proposed by Senator Rockefeller will require the cruise lines to provide greater specificity about the crimes.  For example, the public should know whether a particular cruise ship has experienced multiple incidents where child counselors are accused of molesting children in a child-care facility on the ship.  As matters now stand, it's impossible to tell from the cruise lines' skimpy crime charts what the crime reports really involve.     

 

 

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.  

 

NBC News Discusses Cruise Ship Crime Statistics and Overboard Passengers

Today a local NBC station in South Florida posted a video of the recent disclosure of cruise ship crime statistics.

You can read the article here.

The video (below) includes an interview with me about the provisions of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 (CVSSA) which permitted cruise ship crimes and man-overboard incidents to be concealed from the public. Only incidents which were reported to the FBI and then the FBI closed the investigation could be disclosed to the public.  

The cruise lines were successful in inserting language to this effect into the CVSSA in order to conceal the vast majority of alleged crimes and overboards from the public.

 

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

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Photo Credit: Star Princess - Jim Walker Seattle Washington

NBC Covers Cruise Ship Crime: "Lawmakers Turn Attention to Crime on Cruise Ships"

Cruise Ship CrimeTonight NBC News aired a segment on the recent hearing before the Senate regarding the issue of cruise ship crimes.

Senator Rockefeller scheduled the hearing in a year filled with high-profile cruise ship mishaps. NBC correspondent Mark Potter reports that lawmakers are turning their attention to the amount of crime that takes place while vacationers are out at sea. 

Senator Rockefeller's staff conducted an exhaustive analysis of cruise ship crimes. Senator Rockefeller discovered that of the 959 crimes alleged to have occurred on cruise ships since 2011, only 31 crimes were disclosed to the American people.

Concealing the accurate number of crimes, particularly sexual crimes against children, is a real disservice to the cruising public. 

I was interviewed at the Port of Miami about the need for cruise passengers to remain vigilant during cruises.  

Professor Ross Klein, a cruise expert who has testified before Congress on several occasions, explained that 18% of the sexual assaults on cruises, occur against minors.  

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Watch the video below. 

  

 

Hot Potato: No One Arrested After 12 Year Old Alleges Sexual Assault Aboard Celebrity Century Cruise Ship

KTOO in Alaska reports on what is being described as an alleged sexual assault by a thirty year old man against a 12 year old girl on a cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises. 

KTOO states that a "30-year-old Japanese man allegedly groped a Canadian girl near the pool of a Celebrity cruise ship on June 28th. The alleged attack took place after the ship had departed Ketchikan, but while it was still in Alaska waters."

The incident was reported to ship security who apparently did not detain the man but reported the Cruise Sexual Assault - Celebrity Century Cruise Ship  incident to the Vancouver Police Department. Vancouver authorities initially investigated but turned the matter over to the the FBI, The FBI, in turn, then referred the case to Alaskan State Troopers.

The Alaskan Troopers say the case has been referred to the District Attorney in Ketchikan, Alaska for review.

KRBD identifies the cruise ship as the Celebrity Century. The news station states that no one has been arrested.

The case illustrates the difficulties prosecuting crimes on cruise ships.

A 30 year old Japanese man apparently molests a 12 year old Canadian girl in Alaskan state waters. The cruise ship apparently does not apprehend the man or return to an Alaskan port. The ship sails on to Vancouver, Canada which does not arrest the man even though the victim is Canadian, but reports the crime to the FBI which does not have jurisdiction because the incident occurred in state territorial waters of Alaska. The FBI sends the matter back to Alaska where the crime is alleged to occur.  By the time the Alaskan Troopers are involved, the Japanese man is long gone. 

Around and around we go, with no one wanting the hot potato, and the cruise line hoping the situation will just disappear.

The local District Attorney in Ketchikan Alaska is now looking at trying to figure out how to prosecute a Japanese cruise passenger, who allegedly molested a little Canadian girl, and who probably escaped to Japan and will never return to the U.S. again.

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Photo Credit: Cruise Critic

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

Did Disney Cruise Line Really Sail a Crime Scene from the U.S. to Nassau? International Press Focuses on Disney Child Molestation Case

In a case likely to have long term ramifications for the image of Disney Cruise Line (Magical Cruise Company), the story of Disney-flying-a-child-molester-back-to-India which was broken by a local news station in Orlando last night has already reached a national and international audience.  

The case is essentially no different that an airline learning that one of its flight attendants, age 33, molested an eleven year old child on an airplane and then flying the crime scene, the assailant, and the victim to a foreign country where it knows that criminal prosecution is impossible. Then, to top it off, paying for the crew member to fly home to the other side of the world rather than returning him to the U.S. for prosecution.

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Sexual Crime Cover UpDisney's outrageous conduct is not lost on reporters from around the world. 

Daily Bhaskar (India) reports Caught on camera: Disney Cruise Line employee molests 11-year-old in ship elevator.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail published The Shocking Moment Disney Cruise Line Dining Room Server, 33, Molested Girl, 11, in Ship Elevator.

The International Business Times reported: Did Disney Cruise Line Let A Child Molester Go Free?

News Beat (Greece) reports Ship worker sexually harassed 11 year old girl

The New York Daily News published Disney Cruise Line Failed to Promptly Notify Police that Crew Member Molested an 11-Year-Old Girl.

The highly respected travel writer Peter Greenberg wrote: Cruise Scandal: Did Disney Cover up Employee Sexual Misconduct?

The Stir (a popular blog catering to moms) got it right in the article Disney Cruise Employee Caught on Camera Molesting 11-Year-Old But Goes Free Anyway

There are other news articles on line from China, Romania, Turkey, and Germany about the case.

Expect others in the news media to cover the disturbing story of how the family-friendly Disney Cruise Line responds to crimes against kids on its cruise ships.  

 

Read our other articles on the case:

Images of a Disney Nightmare: Are Your Kids Safe Sailing With Disney?

Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on Disney Dream? 

Image credit to WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando.

Images of a Disney Nightmare: Are Your Kids Safe Sailing With Disney?

Last night a local news station in Orlando Florida aired a blockbuster investigation into a crime aboard a Disney cruise ship (the Disney Dream) at Port Canaveral where a Disney waiter stalked an eleven year old girl and molested her in an elevator.

Yes, crimes occur everywhere. But the disturbing thing thing about this story is that Disney clearly knew what happened and who did it, but it took steps that resulted in its crew member avoiding prosecution. Instead of reporting the crime promptly to local law enforcement in Port Canaveral which has jurisdiction over crimes in the port, Disney left the port without reporting the crime to U.S. authorities. Disney reported the crime to the police at the next port in Nassau, Bahamas. But Disney flies the flag of the Bahamas and has a cozy relationship with that island.  

A prosecution of a Disney employee in Nassau? Never going to happen. Sure enough, Disney quickly flew the child molester back to his home country in India rather than return him to the U.S. for prosecution.   

We covered the story which you can read here: Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on Disney Dream?    

We created a Facebook photo album of images from the program aired by WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando, which you can see here.  A couple of images from WKMG Channel 6 Orlando are below:

Disney Dream Child Molester

Disney Dream Child Molester

Disney Dream Child Molester

 

Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on Disney Dream?

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Child MolestationTonight a local news station in Florida reportied on a case involving a cruise line which markets itself as being family friendly and kid oriented.

At 11 PM tonight, WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando aired what is being described as a "shocking report about a Disney Cruise Line employee fondling an 11-year-old girl and the strange events that followed."

The news station states that it has video of a Disney crew member groping an 11-year-old girl in August 2012.

The article is entitled Disney Cruise Line Fails to Promptly Report Molestation of 11-Year-Old Girl in Port

The incident occurred on the Disney Dream cruise ship before it departed Port Canaveral for a Caribbean cruise. The crew member followed the child into an elevator and "repeatedly grabbed her breast through her clothes and forcibly kissed her on the mouth as he cornered her in an elevator on the Disney Dream."

The news station states that Disney knew what happened, and had video evidence substantiating the child's account. But it chose not to promptly report the crime to the local police in Florida.  Instead, it reported the crime the next day, after the ship was headed to the Bahamas. The news station accuses Disney of lying and trying to cover the incident up. Once the cruise ship reached the Bahamas, the crew member - identified as Milton Braganza from India (photo bottom) - eventually admitted to molesting the child. Disney then flew the crew member home to India, at the cruise line's expense, rather than arrange for Disney Dream Sexual Molestation of Minor him to return to Florida to be arrested. 

In our experiences over the years, we have seen cruise ships delay reporting crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement authorities in the U.S.  Disney registers its cruise ships in the Bahamas to avoid U.S. taxes and wages and safety laws.  By delaying the reporting of the alleged crime, Disney was able to avoid the U.S. investigation into the incident while making certain that any investigation was handled only by the Bahamas which, theoretically can investigate shipboard crimes because Disney cruise ships fly Bahamian flags of convenience.

But the Bahamas has a deplorable record of investigating cruise ship crimes.      

The news reporter who covered the story, Tony Pipitone, stated in a promotional piece: "Find out what happened to the 33-year-old man who avoided investigation in Florida, thanks in part to his employer's inaction."

Disney Crew Member Milton BragnanzaPipitone, referred to Disney having "conflicting accounts of what it knew [and] when it knew it." He mentioned that "he talked to Port Canaveral police, who say they would have liked to know about the crime, which the cruise line didn't report promptly."

Sexual abuse of children during cruises, including Disney cruises, is something we have written about at length here on our blog:

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

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

Last week this news station reported on cruise crime on a Disney ship which revealed that crimes are often not prosecuted by federal authorities. You can watch that report here.

Here's the video from WKMG: 

 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

Middle Photo: WKMG Channel 6 Orlando 

Bottom Photo: Milton Bragnanza Facebook

Is It Safe to Walk the Decks of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships at Night?

Last week I ran across an interesting blog article by a thirty-three year old woman who sailed aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship out of Tampa with her long time boyfriend. Around 2:00 AM one night, she craved a cigarette and proceeded to an upper deck to smoke and look at the stars. 

She encountered a naked man masturbating. He stalked her. She ran from the deck terrified. She immediately told crew members involved in cleaning a lower deck what happened. She then proceeded to the deck four service desk and made an official report of what happened. 

The article is about the indifferent, casual and almost bemused response of the cruise line to her Cruise Ship Deck - Cruise ship Crimeordeal. The comments to her frightening personal experience are revealing. Some comments seem to be from crew members accusing her of being hysterical and essentially telling her to "get over it."

Indecent exposure and public masturbation are crimes in virtually all U.S. states. But in most situations state law does not apply to foreign flagged cruise ships in international waters. Do the laws of foreign countries like Liberia and the Bahamas prohibit such conduct? Did the cruise line report the crime to the flag state? I don't know but I doubt it. I'm sure no police detective from Africa or a small Caribbean island appeared to investigate.

The U.S. federal government theoretically has jurisdiction over federal crimes at sea where the victim is an American and a federal law was broken.  But I don't think public masturbation or indecent exposure are federal crimes. Did the cruise line report the incident to the FBI?  Probably not, but even if it did, I am sure that the FBI declined to appear either.

Florida is the only state in the U.S. which has laws extending jurisdiction to local law enforcement to prosecute crimes which occur on cruise ships.  A state police officer or sheriff's detective from Florida could make an arrest once the cruise ship returned to port in Tampa. But this assumes that the cruise line notified the local law enforcement officials and further assumes the cruise line saved the CCTV surveillance images of the naked man and turned the evidence over to the police.

In my experience, the chances of this cruise line taking such steps are between slim and none.

There will be no prosecution of this cruise pervert. The video images of the naked man on deck and the cruise ship guest running down the stairs in terror will never see the light of day. No mug shots depicting the pervert will ever make it onto the internet. No one from the Miami offices of the cruise line will reach out to the victim with an apology, or words of assurance, or an offer of assistance.   

 

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Carnival Passenger Sentenced to 20 Years for Raping Teen During Cruise

A judge sentenced 31 year old Carnival cruise passenger Casey Dickerson to 20 years in prison to be followed by 15 years probation for raping a 15 year old girl aboard the Carnival Sensation cruise ship. Dickerson and a pack of four boys raped the child last year. Dickerson supplied the boys with alcohol during the cruise and encouraged them to take turns raping the child.

We reported on the crime in an article in August of last year: 15 Year Old Girl Alleges Gang Rape on Carnival Sensation.

There is a serious problem on cruise ships with far too much booze, lax security and an anything goes mentality. Read our article last year -  Rape of 15 Year Old Girl Is Latest Crime Against Children on Carnival Cruises.  

Casey Dickerson - Carnival Cruise Rape


 Photo credit: FanDaily

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Todd Nordahl - Sexual Assault - Royal CaribbeanYesterday, I wrote a short article here about a 49 year old man who reportedly sexually assaulted a 15 year old boy on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas cruise ship.  As I mentioned earlier, a FBI press release states that Todd Nordahl, of Tuscon Arizona, was arrested when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship returned to Galveston from a seven-night cruise. Nordahl was charged with sexually abusing the boy on March 27. He allegedly provided alcohol to the minor victim, made sexual advances toward the child and then sexually assaulted him.

Sexual assaults on Royal Caribbean cruise ships, as well as on other cruise lines, are more frequent than the cruise industry will admit. There are many hundreds of crimes which have occurred over the years on the Royal Caribbean fleet - child porn freaks, child predators and sexual deviants - both crew members and fellow passengers.  

In 1999, Royal Caribbean commissioned a study to access the frequency of sexual assaults on its fleet of cruise ships. The independent experts concluded that sexual misconduct on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ship occurred "frequently." 

Royal Caribbean Sexual Assault Cruise ShipThe experts recommended that certain steps be taken to reduce the number of incidents. In response, the cruise line implemented none of the recommendations. Instead, Royal Caribbean began a PR campaign stating that sexual misconduct was "rare" and touted that the "safety of passengers was its highest priority." The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) later adopted the "safety is our highest priority" slogan as its official talking point.

Our firm was the first to uncover and obtain an order compelling the cruise line to release this report to the public.

Royal Caribbean, in my assessment, continues to perpetuate a fraud on the American public by telling them that their cruise ships are safe, when it knows that that sexual assaults are "frequent."  

Since then there have been many sexual assaults of children throughout the Royal Caribbean - Celebrity Cruises fleet of ships.  Here are some of the recent cases of child porn addicts, sexual predators and men convicted of assaulting children aboard Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships:

Two years ago, a 15 girl was sexually assaulted by who she describes as a uniformed Royal Caribbean crew member aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship. The crime occurred after the cruise employee let himself into the child's cabin while her parents were at a different part of the cruise ship. Like most cruise ship crime cases, the FBI did not arrest anyone and the crime remains unsolved. Child Porn Royal Caribbean Cruise ShipSee the video below to watch the disturbing story.

Timothy David Webb, age 32, (left) was arrested after he disembarked Royal Caribbean's cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas as a passenger at the Norfolk cruise ship terminal. Webb is a convicted sex offender and has a prior conviction sodomy in the state of Virginia. The customs agents pulled Webb from a line of passengers disembarking the cruise ship and searched his laptop, which contained child pornography videos.

A 15 year old girl was raped on the Allure of the Seas last year. The crime occurred after the girl was lured from the cruise ship's teen club called "Fuel" when a 15 year old boy told her he was having a party in his room. Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship 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 (right). 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." Both pled guilty to the crimes.

Celebrity Cruises Sexual AssaultAmado Nicholas Hernandez, age 31, (left) is a pedophile who was employed by Celebrity Cruises as an audiovisual manager and provided onboard guest-entertainment services aboard the Constellation cruise ship. 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. He reportedly dressed as Santa Claus on the Celebrity cruise ship and was photographed with the children of passengers sitting on his lap.  

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Sexual Assault 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.

Federal authorities arrested an Idaho man who took a cruise from Port Canaveral with more than 1,000 Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Porn images of child pornography on a laptop he took on the cruise ship. According to a complaint filed in Orlando federal court, authorities were inspecting cruise passengers onboard Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas cruise ship on December 10, 2012, when they discovered that the laptop computer of cruise passenger Gary Lee Reed, of Blackfoot Idaho, had around 1,162 images and videos depicting child pornography. The images included sexual abuse of toddlers and babies. Reed reportedly admitted that he has viewed child pornography for many years. He was arrested and subsequently indicted by an Orlando federal grand jury on a child pornography charge.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Child Predator A Pittsburgh-area man was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for traveling to Florida in order to take a cruise so he could molest a young boy. Seventy-three-year-old Sherwood Stevenson pleaded guilty to traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Stevenson fondled a 6-year-old boy while in a hot tub on the Royal Caribbean Liberty if the Seas cruise ship in December 2009. When that boy got away, Stevenson made brief contact with another boy. Stevenson told investigators he took the cruise so he could molest young boys.

We have handled over 75 sexual assaults of women and children on cruise ships over the past decade. We maintain a large data-base of many hundreds of such crimes on cruise ships.

Cruise lines will never tell you the truth about sexual assault. It is the cruise industry's dirtiest secret.    

Cruise Crime Allegations: 15 Year Old Boy Sexually Assaulted on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

Mariner of the Seas - Todd NordahlA 49 year old cruise passenger was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 15 year old boy during a recent cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.

According to a FBI press release, Todd Nordahl, of Arizona, was arrested when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship returned to Galveston from a seven-night cruise. 

The charges are that on March 27, Nordahl provided alcohol to the minor victim, made sexual advances toward the child and then sexually assaulted the boy.

Nordahl, 49, is being held in the Galveston County Jail. There is a hearing scheduled tomorrow in Federal Court in Texas before U.S. Magistrate Judge John R. Froeschner at 2:00 PM.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are one of the cruise industry's dirtiest secrets.  Tomorrow we will post some of the most devious child porn addicts and sexual predators caught on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

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.

L.A. Times Asks: Is Cruising Safer One Year After Costa Concordia?

The L.A. Times has an interesting article today about whether the new cruise safety proposals marketed to the public after the Concordia disaster are really making a difference.

Entitled Questions Linger One Year After the Costa Concordia Disaster, the article by L.A. Times reporter Mary Forgione asks some tough questions whether the cruise industry has taken the steps necessary to make cruising safer for the public.

Interviewed in the article are two cruise ship survivors who give the issue some true perspective. Weighing in for the cruise industry is former travel agent Christine Duffy, who is now head of the cruise Cruise Ship Safetytrade organization Cruise Line International Association, as well as cruise fan Carolyn Spencer Brown, who is the editor of the pro-cruise website and Expedia & Trip Advisor owned Cruise Critic.  

Ms. Forione interviewed me as the critic of the cruise industry, I suppose.

My take is that the proposals are rather modest. Plus there is no regulatory agency of any type which can actually enforce the proposals. The proposals are mostly happy-talk to try and convince the public that it's safe keep buying cruises. 

There are more pressing cruise safety issues to worry about that no one is talking about.

The risk of terrorism against a cruise ship is frightening, Consider this. But no one is discussing the inadequate, skeleton crews of security guards on cruise ships.

Nor is anyone focusing on the greatest risk to your family if you cruise. Sexual assault of children, girls and women. Just last week two officers aboard a Princess cruise ship were arrested on allegations that they raped a woman on the Grand Princess. No one is talking about that either. 

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.

No Arrest After Cruise Passenger with Service Dog is Attacked Aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas

The popular online community Cruise Critic reports today on a disturbing incident where a 59-year-old passenger attacked another passenger who had a service dog with him aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas on December 20th. 

The article is based primarily on comments by Cruise Critic member "Bloemerl" who posted:

"My heart goes out to our new found friend and his service dog Freedom. He was viciously attacked late at nite while getting a pizza in the Solarium. He was beaten because a man could not respect service dogs and felt Freedom should not be on board." (The photo to the right is not of Freedom).

Service Dog - Disabled - Cruise ShipAlthough Royal Caribbean confirmed the incident occurred, the cruise line disembarked the passenger in Antigua rather than detaining him to be arrested by the FBI when the cruise ship returned to port in Fort Lauderdale.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told Cruise Critic that the attacker was disembarked for being in violation of the line's "guest conduct policy."  

Royal Caribbean claims that it reported the assault and battery to local law enforcement in Antigua "as well as to the Broward Sheriff's Office in Florida." Remarkably, there is no mention of a report to the FBI which has jurisdiction over crimes on the high seas involving U.S. citizens. The FBI can make an arrest where the victim and/or the assailant is a U.S. citizen. The failure of the cruise line to report the incident to the FBI violates the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

A spokesperson for cruise line said "ship crew would have detained the man had a law enforcement agency asked them to hold him, but no such request was received."  This statement begs the question why the FBI was not notified.

Royal Caribbean also characterized the victim as sustaining only "minor injuries and was treated in the ship's medical facility."  But according to Cruise Critic member "Bloemerl," the man was transferred to a Fort Lauderdale hospital at the conclusion of the sailing to be checked for broken ribs and possible internal injuries.

Unfortunately, this is often the way that cruise lines handle shipboard crimes. If the incident had occurred say at the Dadeland Mall here in Miami, the local police would certainly make an arrest and the case would be prosecuted. But on the high seas, the cruise lines just dump the criminal off at the next port and wash their hands of the situation. Often they refuse to notify the FBI. Prosecutions are then virtually impossible.

 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean - a service dog is defined by Royal Caribbean as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability."

Assault With Knife Lands Royal Caribbean Crew Member in Jail

A Royal Caribbean galley worker who attacked a supervisor in May of this year on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge William Martini sentenced Donny Martin Crisanto, age 31, of Nicaragua, during a court appearance in Newark, New Jersey. 

Cristano had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting the supervisor on May 4 while working in the galley of Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship which sails out of Bayonne, N.J. to Bermuda and the Bahamas. 

Donny Crisanto - Royal Caribbean Crew MemberThe U.S. Attorney's Office released the following statement:

A Nicaraguan national who admitted to stabbing his supervisor aboard a cruise ship in international waters was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Donny Martin Crisanto, 31, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an Information charging him with knowingly and intentionally assaulting another with a dangerous weapon, with intent to do bodily harm, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements in court:

On May 4, 2012, Crisanto was working as a galley utility employee aboard the Royal Caribbean International, Explorer of the Seas cruise ship, which was operating within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Crisanto was inside the ship kitchen, when he assaulted his supervisor, identified only by the initials “M.S.,” the head kitchen steward, with a dangerous weapon. After an earlier work dispute Crisanto approached M.S. from behind and, not acting in self-defense, Crisanto struck M.S. in the forehead and shoulder with a knife.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Crisanto to one year of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, in Newark, and Royal Caribbean, Explorer of the Seas ship security officers, with the investigation that resulted in the sentence. 

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

Should I Send My Daughter on a Cruise?

Sexual Abuse of Children - Disney Cruise ShipOne of the web sites which I read from time to time is "TravelTruth." It is a site which describes itself as a "collaborative effort designed to offer the vacation consumer real world advice without exaggeration, deception, or sales bias. It is the ultimate insider’s view of how things really work, written by an award-winning team of travel consultants and journalists."  

TravelTruth recently addressed the issue raised by a mother who asked whether she should let her daughter vacation on a cruise ship in the Caribbean next spring.  The article is entitled "Bottom Line: Should My Daughter Do This Trip?"The article explains some of the dangers which we touch upon in this blog, namely the absence of independent police authorities on cruise ships, and the risk of sexual assault both on the ships and especially ashore in Mexico and the Caribbean islands.

If you are a parent thinking of taking your daughter (or son) aboard a cruise ship, consider reading the articles about the cruise lines below:

Sexual Assault of Children - Royal CaribbeanCarnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, NCL, Oceania, Princess, and Royal Caribbean  

One of our goals at Cruise Law News is public awareness. Thus, the motto of our blog "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  The TravelTruth site also provided a link to our blog for parents to read if they are considering taking their daughters on a cruise.  

Our goal is not to scare the public from cruising, but to educate the public that its not safe to let your guard down aboard cruise ships while cruising with your children.  

Photos:

Top: Disney cruise passenger Lucas George Wickes indicted for felony sexual abuse and aggravated sexual abuse of minor aboard Disney Wonder.

Bottom: Royal Caribbean crew member Fabian Palmer indicted for felony sexual abuse of minor aboard Adventure of the Seas.

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 

Another Predator Priest Goes On A Cruise

Bill Carney - Cruise Ship - Priest PedophileThe Daily Record in the U.K. published an article today about who it is describing as a "notorious pedophile priest . . . caught enjoying a luxury cruise among families with young children." 

The article involves ex-Catholic priest Bill Carney who sailed on the P & O Ventura ship on a Mediterranean cruise with his wife.

The article states that Carney terrorized children for years in his native Ireland and was suspected of abusing "up to 32 named victims, with evidence that there were many more." Carney, age 62, became a priest in 1974 and, according to the newspaper article, used his position to molest dozens of children. "He attacked boys and girls from at least eight children’s homes," according to the article. An Irish government report into child abuse by priests described Carney as “one of the most serious serial abusers in the archdiocese of Dublin."

In 1983, Priest Carney was convicted of two counts of indecent assault. He received probation and the archdiocese paid compensation to six victims. He was not defrocked until 1992. 

Carney is not on the sex offenders’ register in the UK.

The Daily Record states that Carney was spotted on the P & O cruise last month, apparently by another passenger who identified him as the predator priest.  “But here he was without a care in the world – and we were surrounded by families and children." The newspaper points out that P & O describes the Ventura cruise ship as “very family friendly,” with “fantastic children’s clubs and a play area for under-twos."

Carney is not the only pervert ex-priest who likes to cruise. 

George Neville Rucker - Cruise Ship Last year, we wrote about George Neville Rucker, an accused predator priest, who sailed on a cruise to South America. Rucker is a defrocked Los Angeles priest who was accused of sexually molesting 33 girls.

Over the years, we have written about sexual predators of all types, young men, old men, eccentric celebrities, child counselors, youth counselors, bartenders, audio visual technicians, pool cleaners, and even captains. Parents need to know not to trust anyone with their children during cruises.

The cruise lines share all types of information with themselves about passengers they don't want on their ships, like casino cheats, credit card scammers, and litigious cruisers. But they don't track smiley faced pedophiles.   

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.

FBI Cruise Ship Crime Cover-Up Continues

Journalist Robert Anglen has an article today in the Arizona Republic entitled "Stats Don't Fully Account For All Cruise-Ship Crime."  The article was also published in USA TODAY and discusses the false and misleading cruise ship crimes statistics in the FBI database which mentions only 2 cruise ship crimes for the second quarter of this year. 

You will recall that the cruise lines were suppose to be required to report the hundreds of crimes which occur each year, pursuant to the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Law.  But the language of the new law was altered at the last minute to permit the cruise lines to cover the crimes up.  Lawmakers said the FBI demanded the alterations to benefit the cruise lines.  There is no doubt that the cruise lines and Bogus FBI Cruise Ship Crime Statisticstheir trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), were behind the last minute shenanigans.

Mr. Anglen wrote an article earlier this year (in June) entitled "Law Shields Industry On Cruise-Ship Crime Information" which exposed the manipulation of the law which was originally designed to require greater transparency from the cruise industry.  The public was suppose to be able to access an accurate public database with all of the crime allegations available. But the behind-the-scenes alteration of the law has resulted in an unprecedented concealment of crimes by the cruise lines with the full cooperation and assistance by the FBI.

Is it just a coincidence that many of the top security personnel at the cruise lines today used to be senior FBI officials?  The FBI has an open dialogue with the cruise lines but routinely keeps the victims in the dark.

This cozy relationship between the FBI and the cruise lines is a great disservice to the cruising public.

The article mentions Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims organization. 

Mr. Anglen's article also quotes me referring to the FBI database as "bogus" and only 2 crimes in the last quarter as "lies." These comments were from from a blog I wrote in August - "Lies, Lies & Lies - FBI & Cruise Industry Continue to Publish Bogus Cruise Crimes Statistics."

The cruise lines must be chuckling after thumbing their collective nose at the legislative process. They have proven that foreign off-shore industries can easily circumvent the U.S. democratic process, as long as they have friends in high places.  

 

Photo credit: FBI

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. 

Watch CNN Special "Predators at Sea" - Are Your Kids Safe on Cruise Ships?

Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas - Sexual Predator Last night, CNN Anderson Cooper's program AC 360 took a look at the safety of women and children on cruise ships.

The program began with an interview with a girl who alleges that at age 15 she was sexually assaulted by who she describes as a uniformed Royal Caribbean crew member aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship. The crime occurred after the cruise employee let himself into the child's cabin while her parents were at a different part of the cruise ship. Like most cruise ship crime cases, the FBI did not arrest anyone and the crime remains unsolved.

A former U.S. Customs and Border agent and a former cruise ship security officer were interviewed. They stated that there is a 85% to 100% chance that a cruise ship leaving a port in Florida has a sexual predator aboard. Cruise ships are "magnets" for sexual predators and criminals know that cruise crimes are rarely reported and rarely investigated by the FBI. 

The cruise industry, predictably, released its talking points and stated that the safety of its guests is its highest priority. The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), also stated that ship crime is rare. It went as far as to state that there are only a "handful" of crimes which occur during cruises based on the database required by a new cruise safety law.

Remarkably, the cruise industry did not mention that the cruise law was watered down to require the disclosure of only a fraction of the many hundreds of crimes which occur each year. We suspect that CLIA was behind the alteration of the cruise law in order to cover-up crimes like the one involving the girl on the Rhapsody of the Seas.

Watch the video below:    

 

CNN's "Safe at Sea" Series Investigates Sexual Assault of 15 Year Old Girl on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Child Rape - Cruise Ship Crime Tonight, the CNN Anderson Cooper AC360 program aired a short documentary into the issue of the safety of children on the high seas, entitled "Safe at Sea."

The program focuses on a fifteen year old girl sailing with her family on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2010.  While her parents and siblings were at a different part of the ship, the young girl was in her cabin alone.  A crew member in uniform uses a pass key and enters the cabin unannounced and violently forces her to perform oral sex.

Terrified and distraught, the child did not immediately report the crime to her parents.

Our investigation into other crimes against children on Royal Caribbean cruise ships led us to the court ordered production of an internal report by Royal Caribbean which concluded that sexual misconduct occurs "frequently." The report concluded that as many as one-third of women and children sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean cruise ships report the crime only after they have left the cruise ship and are back in the security of their home.  

In this case, the parents informed the local police in California of the shipboard crime who found the child's complaints to be "credible."  The police forwarded the complaints to the FBI.  The FBI investigation included collecting photographs of crew members selected by the cruise line which, not surprisingly, did not contain the predator's photo. The family thereafter never heard back from the FBI.

Child Sexual Assault - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship The cruise line, however, paid a settlement to the child. On the CNN program tonight, the child (whose identify was protected for her privacy) stated that she felt the crew member was a predator and had done it before.

The program also contained an interview with a former U.S. Customs and Border official who stated that, in her experience, 85% of cruises contain at least one sexual predator on the cruise ship.  

The cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), attacked the former federal employee and released a statement to CNN stating that:

" . . . . it is disconcerting that this individual would irresponsibly offer such inflammatory and unfounded accusations."

This, in a nutshell, is the attitude of the cruise industry and cruise lines like Royal Caribbean toward victims.

A fifteen year old child is sexually assaulted during a cruise. Yet, the cruise line and the cruise industry offer no apologies to the child or her family.  

Instead, they attack those who dare to speak out in public about crimes on cruise ships.

Cruise Line International Association - CLIA Attacks Cruise Victim

Former NCL Assistant Cruise Director Pleads Guilty to Child Porn

The Tampa Bay Times reports that yesterday a former Norwegian Cruise Lines crew member formally pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.  Earlier this month, the crew member agreed to make this plea. 

The case involves former NCL Assistant Cruise Director Senad Djedovic, age 29, from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Djedovic engaged in sexual relations with a 16 year old girl during a cruise last January. Later, Djedovic solicited naked images from the minor and reportedly received more than 20 pornographic images. 

Senad Djedovic - NCL Pervert - Child PornThe article points out that Djedovic used a NCL company computer to correspond with the teen and receive the images. 

Cruise Law News reported on the case back in February in our article "FBI Arrests NCL Assistant Cruise Director for Engaging in Sex With 16 Year Old Passenger & Child Pornography."

We mentioned that 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.

Djedovic worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) for six years for a number of different NCL cruise ships.

U.S. State Department: Crime In Nassau, Bahamas Is Critical

Bad news for our friends in the Bahamas and cruise passengers intending to vacation there. 

The U.S. State Department's 2012 "Crime and Safety Report" has labeled New Providence island's (including Nassau) criminal threat level as "critical" with Grand Bahama's island's (including Freeport) level as "high."

"In previous years, most violent crimes involved mainly Bahamian citizens and occurred in 'over-the-hill' areas, which are not frequented by tourists," the report stated.  "However, in 2011 there were numerous incidents reported that involved tourists or have occurred in areas in tourist locations.

Nassau Bahamas - Cruise Ship - Crime "In late 2011, there have been numerous reports by cruise ship tourists and others regarding incidents of armed robberies of cash and jewelery. These incidents were reported during daylight and nighttime hours. In several cases, the victims were robbed at knife-point, and gold necklaces and jewelery were taken. "Cash for Gold" is a new business in the Bahamas that may have resulted in the increase of these type of crimes."

Criminal threat levels are ranked as low, medium, high or critical. Other countries in the region also categorized as "critical" are: El Salvador, Guyana, and Ecuador.

"The US Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents, the victim had been reportedly drugged."

Unlike the secretive cruise lines, the newspapers in the Bahamas do a very effective job reporting on issues of high crime.   

The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the world according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime and violence.

Our firm has represented five women sexually assaulted on cruise ships in port in Nassau or ashore in the Bahamas. All of the women raped ashore ranged in age from 17 to 23 and were in seemingly safe locations in downtown Nassau near bars or stores within sight of the cruise ships.  

Royal Caribbean Crewmember Sues John Travolta For Sexual Harassment

Fabian Zanzi - Royal Caribbean  - John Travolta - Sexual Harassment?This week there has been a whirlwind of media attention surrounding allegations by a masseur that John Travolta sexually harassed and assaulted him in Hollywood earlier this year.  TMZ posted the lawsuit on line. The lawsuit reads like a pornographic paperback.  Travolta denies the lurid allegations in what is being called the "massage lawsuit."    

A second masseur also came out with allegations of similar conduct by Travolta. 

Now, there's a third sexual harassment allegation (actually made before the first two) involving another similar lawsuit recently filed against Travolta - this time by a cruise line employee.

Chilean Fabian Zanzi (photo left via facebook), a former employee of Royal Caribbean Cruises, alleges that in May 2009 Travolta was cruising aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as a guest.

As reported by ABC.es,  Zanzi was working as a manager on the unidentified Royal Caribbean cruise ship and was responsible for taking care of VIP's. Travolta "said he had something on his neck. I thought it was a fuzz. As I approached, he took off his white coat and was naked. He hugged me and asked me to do a massage."  Zanzi said that Travolta offered him $12,000 to have sex with him, but he refused. 

According to Zanzi, he reported the incident to his supervisors at Royal Caribbean who not only did not believe him but confined him to his cabin.  Royal Caribbean later fired him.

Zanzi originally told his story to Peru's 24 Hours. The allegations have been circulating in newspapers in South America.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before TMZ or another TV tabloid picks up on the John Travolta-harasses-cruise-employee lawsuit story.

I have heard rumors over the years about John Travolta sexually harassing crew aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship, although this is the first I have heard of a lawsuit filed by a crewmember.  

Travolta is one of my favorite actors.  He was great in Civil Action.  But I find these allegations quite, shall we say, travolting . . . 

You can hear Zanzi's allegation in the video below: 

 

 May 10, 2912 Update:

Perez Hilton, Huffington Post and a hundred other media outlets have picked up the story.  (It's strange to think of Perez Hilton linking to Cruise Law News).

Travolta's lawyer, Marty Singer, issued a statement that "this is just another ridiculous claim by someone hopping on the bandwagon to get his 15 minutes of fame with a story about something that supposedly happened over three years ago.”  Mr. Singer apparently does not realize that Zanzi made his allegations public before the two other allegations.

May 11, 2012 Update:

A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention that Travolta cruised with Royal Caribbean, on the Enchantment of the Seas, in June 2009, out of Miami.  He apparently did not finish the cruise and return with the cruise ship  to Miami.  Instead, he disembarked the ship in Belize and flew a jet back to the U.S.  

May 14, 2012 Update:

TMZ has a link to certain cruise line documents indicating that Travolta was on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship in June 2009.  

 

 

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.    

 

'Ships of Shame" - Australia's 60 Minutes Looks at Cruise Ship Crime

Yesterday, Australia's 60 Minutes aired a special program investigating crimes on cruise ships.

The program mentioned the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam (from the Disney Wonder) and Merrian Carver (from the Celebrity Mercury), the outrageous circumstances surrounding the death of Dianne Brimble on a P & O cruise ship, and the sexual assault of a 15 year old girl aboard the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas.

The program focuses on the problems posed by flags of convenience.  U.S. based cruise ships do not fly American flags but the flags of countries where the cruise ships are registered in order to avoid taxes, labor laws, and safety regulations. If you are on a victim of a crime on a cruise ship flagged in the Bahamas, Panama or Liberia, these countries have jurisdiction and will either do nothing or eventually assign a single policeman to investigate.  Not surprisingly, there are virtually no convictions in most cases of cruise ship crime.

The cruise lines refused to appear in the program, but sent a representative of the trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association, Michael Crye.  Mr. Crye is a lawyer who often appears in public for the cruise lines.  Appearing very nervous, he admitted that most Americans have no idea that a police officer from a third world country would be the representative who may (or may not) appear on the cruise ship following a crime.    

Take a few minutes and watch the program here: Ships of Shame.  

"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

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 

Royal Caribbean President's Email Blast Insults Crime Victims

Yesterday one of my clients, who I will call Jane Doe, contacted me after receiving an unsolicited email from the President of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Adam Goldstein.

The e-mail addressed her by her first name.  It seemed to be personalized to her.  It recognized her as a past customer and contained statements like:

"At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history Royal Caribbean Cruises  - Adam Goldstein illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships."  

President Goldstein's email outraged Jane Doe.   You see, she had just returned home with her young daughter who had been raped on President Goldstein's cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.  

Goldstein's unsolicited email to a rape victim's mom had nothing to do with the humiliating shipboard rape suffered by Jane Doe's daughter, one of many rapes of children on the Royal Caribbean fleet over the years.  Instead, it was part of this cruise line's media campaign to try and distance itself from the negative fall out following the deadly Costa Concordia disaster.

Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line making such public statements following the Concordia crash.  You can watch Royal Caribbean's slick video touting the safety of cruising here.  President Goldstein's blog is here.  "Safety is in our DNA."  "Cruising is the safest form of transportation."  "The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority."  Royal Caribbean covered all of the cruise industry's talking points in its video, the president's blog and its e-mail blast below.    

Of course, in truth, Goldstein's email was not a personalized message to Jane Doe.  He does not know her from the man in the moon, even though her daughter was raped on the cruise line's showpiece megaship and the biggest cruise ship in the world. 

Royal Caribbean spammed Goldstein's email to every single family who had sailed with them.  This was an intentional and reckless stunt, considering that hundreds of women and children have reportedly been sexually assaulted during Royal Caribbean cruises over the years.  Certainly, the cruise line knew that its former customers who are victims of crime, and whose names remain in its customer database, would feel salt being poured into their wounds upon reading Goldstein's email in their personal email accounts.      

Insensitive & thoughtless, if not outrageous?   Definitely.  But Goldstein is not thinking of his customer's feelings.  He is motivated by his cruise line's bottom line.  He wants to reassure his customers that it is safe to return to cruising, whether that is true or not. 

This is hardly the first time this has happened.

In 2006, one of my clients, Laurie Dishman (photo right), was brutally raped by a part time Royal Caribbean security guard with a Royal Caribbean Crime Victim Laurie Dishman prior record of sexually harassing passengers.   She retained us to represent her.  I sent a handful of letters to President Goldstein, asking for our client's medical records, her statement, and the name and address of the Royal Caribbean employee who raped Laurie.  We received nothing in response.  Goldstein ignored us.

The only things Laurie initially received from Royal Caribbean were unsolicited emails inviting Laurie to return for another "cruise of a lifetime" on a Royal Caribbean ship.  The emails continued for over a year.  Each email popping into her computer's email in-box took Laurie back to the scene of the crime and reactivated a sense of panic and stress.  It was only after a half dozen letters of protest from us, and a Congressional investigation into the crime initiated by Laurie's Congresswoman in 2007, that the cruise line scrubbed her from its marketing database.

We pleaded for Royal Caribbean to implement a system to remove a passenger's information from the company's marketing database whenever a passenger was raped, killed or lost a loved one overboard during a cruise.  Believe me, cruise vacationers don't want promotional brochures in their mail boxes after a family member has been raped or lost at sea.    

It looks like Royal Caribbean ignored that request too. 

President Goldstein's blog talks in grandiose terms about the Costa Concordia crash being a "defining moment" for the cruise industry.  He promises a renewed commitment to passenger safety.  Let's hope that's true. 

But when a cruise line president sends an e-mail blast to the mother of a child raped during a cruise, you wonder whether cruise line executives like Goldstein really get it.   

 

Photo credits:

Adam Goldstein - Royal Caribbean Flickr page

Laurie Dishman - Sacramento Bee

 

ROYAL CARIBBEAN EMAILS ADAM GOLDSTEIN'S LETTER TO MILLIONS OF CRUISE CUSTOMERS:

Dear XXX, 

All of us at Royal Caribbean International continue to extend our heartfelt sympathies to those affected by Carnival Corporation's recent tragic incident on the Costa Concordia. As a Crown & Anchor Society member and loyal Royal Caribbean guest, we know you may have some questions as the situation continues to unfold.

At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships. The measures we take in the interest of safety are many, often exceeding the regulatory requirements – these are all part of our ongoing commitment to innovation and continuous improvement in every aspect of our business.

To address some of your questions and concerns, here is a video that will provide an overview of safety onboard our ships; the training of our crew, officers and captains; and the many regulations that govern our practices. Click here to watch.

As a past cruiser, we know your friends and family may be asking about your own time at sea. We hope that you'll share this video along with your personal Royal Caribbean experiences with them, and reinforce that cruising continues to maintain the best safety record of any industry in travel.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon on one of our ships sailing to 270 destinations worldwide.

Sincerely,

Adam Goldstein
President and CEO
Royal Caribbean International

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

Royal Caribbean Crewmember Indicted For Sexually Abusing 14 Year Old Girl

Fabian Palmer - Royal Caribbean - Sexual Abuse of MinorThe Baltimore Sun reports today that a Grand Jury in Baltimore, Maryland indicted a Royal Caribbean crewmember of sexually abusing a minor during a cruise ship out of Baltimore. 

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, crewmember Fabian Palmer, age 25, befriended a 14 year old girl and her family during a cruise that departed from Baltimore on December 17, 2010.

The newspaper reports that on December 23, 2011, the victim told authorities that she was alone on a deck on the cruise ship when crewmember Palmer took her into a men's locker room and "began having sex with her."  He stopped only when another employee knocked on the door.

The cruise ship's CCTV video cameras captured images of the crewmember, the victim and a second employee outside the locker room around the same time that the victim said the abuse occurred, according to the newspaper.  During an interviewed by Royal Caribbean security, Fabian Palmer - Royal Caribbean - Sexual Assault - Cruise Ship crewmember Palmer admitted having sex with the girl, but claims that he believed that she was 16.

The newspaper does not identify the cruise ship, but it appears that it involved the Adventure of the Seas.

The Grand Jury returned the indictment yesterday.

The FBI has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate crimes like this involving U.S. citizens on the high seas.  An adult engaging in sexual intercourse with a 14 year old minor is in violation of federal law and is considered to be "sexual abuse" which can be prosecuted by the Department of Justice. 

Mr. Palmer's facebook page indicates that he is from Jamaica and worked as a pool attendant on Fabian Palmer - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship Sexual Abusethe Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  His facebook page shows him fraternizing with numerous women around the cruise ship pool and other areas of the ship.  The photos are all from his facebook page.

This incident comes at a time when the international media is reporting on the rape of a 15 year old girl on another Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Allure of the Sea.

The newspaper reports that Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

A similar incident occurred in November on a Carnival cruise ship when a crewmember identified as Kert Clyde Jordan, age 35, a waiter from the country of Grenada, took a 14 year old child into a bathroom on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship. 

He was indicted on sexual abuse and is in jail in Miami awaiting trial.  

You can read about that incident here and here.

Do you have information about any of these crewmembers or incidents?  Please leave a comment below.  

Fabian Palmer - Royal Caribbean - Sexual Abuse of Minor

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

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

Accused Royal Caribbean Cruises Rapist Sues Bahamas for Spending Four Nights in Jail After Acquital

One of the categories I have for my Cruise Law News blog is "weird cruise news." 

Why such a category? 

For stories just like this:

Soveriegn of the Seas Cruise Ship - RapeThe Nassau Guardian published an article today about a Royal Caribbean crewmember, employed as a stateroom attendant, who was accused of raping a young woman on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas cruise ship. 

The incident involved a student from Florida State University who reported being raped back in 2006 on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship while it was docked in Nassau. 

The accused crewmember was Ruel Lockwood from Nicaragua.  He entered the young woman's cabin with a key card, which he used to enter cabins to clean them.

Why Royal Caribbean lets single men have key cards to women's cabins on their cruise ships remains an unpleasant mystery for me. 

I was young Jane Doe's Miami counsel, appointed by the Washington D.C. law firm of Winston & Strawn to act as co-counsel for Jane Doe after the shipboard rape.

The job of prosecutors in foreign countries of convincing juries to convict a cruise ship employee for raping an American woman is a daunting task, especially when the cruise line sent its defense lawyers to Nassau to assist the Bahamian criminal defense lawyers defend the case - which we alleged in the lawsuit filed against Royal Caribbean.

Yes, as expected, the jury in the Bahamas acquitted the cruise line employee accused of the rape.  The legitimacy of the verdict should be considered with the fact that Royal Caribbean paid $1,500,000.00 to settle the civil case where we alleged that the crewmember raped our client.

In my opinion, cruise lines don't pay that type of compensation if a rape did not occur.

Now here comes the weird part. 

After crewmember Lockwood was acquitted, he remained in jail for 4 days in Nassau.   For that, he sued the Bahamas for "unlawful detention."  Although he spent months and months in jail for the rape charges, he is now seeking damages for the 4 days he spent in jail after the jury acquitted him.  

Crewmember Lockwood should count his blessings for not spending the next 20 years of his life in the bowels of the Nassau jails.

Seeking compensation for 4 days in jail after his "acquittal" of raping an innocent coed during a cruise is a sick joke.

 

Photo Credit:  usscusk.com

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'   

Carnival Passenger Admits to Sexually Abusing Minor During Cruise

Al.com blog reports today that a 19 year old Mississippi man pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 13 year old girl during a Carnival cruise ship last month.

Dylan Cole Bloodsworth, 19, pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a child during the cruise, as well as enticing another young girl to engage in sex back in Mississippi.  We reported on this crime last April.

Dylan Bloodsworth - Carnival Cruise Sexual Assault The blog states that a 13-year-old girl was taking a cruise to Mexico in March with her friend and her friend’s mother.  She met Bloodsworth on March 6th near the elevators onboard the Carnival Elation cruise ship and agreed to meet him on the top deck after dinner.  She later agreed to go with Bloodsworth to get a jacket from his cabin, where the sexual abuse occurred.

An affidavit filed by the FBI stated that the girl told investigators that she did not want to have sex with Bloodsworth and that he hurt her.  Bloodsworth's defense lawyer disputed that force or coercion were involved.  The bottom line is that the girl was too young to legally consent to sex, which is in violation of the Federal Statutes regarding sexual abuse of minors. 

The blog indicates that Bloodsworth faces up to 10 years in prison on both charges.

 

Photo: GulfLive.com

"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.

Cruise Passenger and Crew Members Assaulted in Bermuda

A post by a cruiser on a CruiseCritic forum yesterday indicates that a cruise passenger visiting Bermuda was assaulted and battered in an attempted robbery last week.

One June 14th, a passenger from the NCL Dawn cruise ship was walking back to the ship around 4:00 p.m. from Snorkel Beach on what is described as a "relatively well traveled walkway in front of the main entrance to the Maritime Museum." 

Bermuda Cruise CrimeA Bermudian man punched the passenger in the face, knocking him to the ground and then began to search through the passenger's pockets.  The passenger fought back and then fled back to the cruise ship where he reported the incident to security personnel and customs agents. Bermudian police reportedly stated that such attacks have become more frequent  in recent years.

On June 8th, the BDA Sun reported that two NCL crewmembers from the Dawn were assaulted early in the morning in Snorkel Park and one of the crewmembers required medical treatment in a hospital.

The newspaper then published an article about the fracas entitled Warning of Tourism Fallout after Fight.   Snorkel Park chief Tom Steinhoff is quoted as saying: "Behaviour like this threatens further investment in Bermuda and threatens Bermuda tourism – we are going to do everything we can to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again."

On May 31, 2011, the Royal Gazette newspaper reported on the attacks of two cruise tourists in an article entitled "Man Admits Attack on Cruise Ship Visitors."  A Bermudan man admitted attacking two cruise tourists with a piece of metal pipe in a public bathroom in Par-la-Ville Park.  As usual, the newspaper did not mention the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.

Last week's violent assault and battery of a cruise passenger is not going to help the island's reputation.

The Bermuda Police have an online website which contains "daily reports" of crime.  Although there is an online account of the earlier incident involving the crewmembers, there is no mention of the assault of the cruise passenger last week.

Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Bermuda has long enjoyed a reputation for being a generally safe destination (the exception being the brutal rape and death of a young Canadian tourist Rebecca Middleton and the incompetence of the Bermudian authorities which followed). 

Are crimes against cruise passengers and crew a problem in Bermuda?    

 

June 22, 2011 Update:

Cruise Critic has an interesting article about this incident.  The police in Bermuda are claiming that this was no random act of violence but rather a "drug deal gone wrong."  The police do not deny that the passenger was injured.  Rather they are saying that the alleged drug transaction led to the violence. 

I'm not sure that makes me feel any better.  It seems to raise the issue whether Bermuda may have a problem with drugs as well as violent crime. 

The article is entitled "Bermuda Police Debunk Alleged Attack on Cruise Ship Passenger." 

June 23, 2011 Update:

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda is finally covering the story - "Alleged Robbery was Drug Deal Gone Bad Govt."
 

U.S. Cruise Passenger Dies in Naples After Assault, Attempted Robbery

Reuters is reporting that an American tourist died in Naples yesterday, after thieves assaulted him while trying to steal his Rolex watch a week ago. 

The article states that Oscar Antonio Mendoza, age 66, and his wife cruised to Naples on May 18th.  After he disembarked the unidentified cruise ship to tour the city with his wife, two men approached him on a scooter, grabbed his arm and tried to take his Rolex.

Mendoza struggled with one of the men and was thrown to the ground, hitting his head. He was taken to hospital and operated on.  He did not regain consciousness and died nine days later.

Naples is an interesting place to visit, but it has a reputation for pick pockets, purse snatchers, and drive-by-scooter robberies.

Naples Cruise Passenger Assaulted  

May 29, 2011 Update:  Cruise Critic reports that the cruise passenger was from the Solstice cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises.

Cruise Critic writes "It should be noted that the Italian city is notorious for crime. The Cruise Critic profile on the port warns visitors to be 'careful about crime -- pickpockets, burglaries, etc.' "

Latest Royal Caribbean Rape Allegation Reveals Problem of Underage Drinking on Cruises

The Miami New Times published a disturbing article this afternoon "Royal Caribbean Sued After 17-Year-Old Girl Allegedly Raped by Cruise Singer." 

The article by Michael Miller involves an encounter between a 17 year old passenger ("Jane Doe") and a 31 year old Royal Caribbean crew member employed as a singer in a band on the unidentified cruise ship.  After the crew member bought the minor a piña colada, two rounds of "Jaeggerbombs" and "a few more drinks," they ended up in the crew member's cabin where the rape allegedly occurred.  "Another man" (apparently another passenger) then ended up in Royal Caribbean Alcohol - Underage Drinking - Intoxication  the cabin and took pornographic photos of the drunken girl, according to the article.

The lawsuit alleges that the minor was required to prepare a written statement while she was still intoxicated.  She was then permitted a medical examination, where her blood alcohol level was .101. 

The curious part of the article is the newspaper writes "Royal Caribbean, which is based in Miami, could not be reached for comment regarding the lawsuit."  This is odd because the Miami New Times is here in Miami and a short distance down Biscayne Boulevard from the port where Royal Caribbean is located.  It is less than clear whether the reporter called the cruise line or tried to make contact with any law enforcement who may have been involved.

It is my understanding that the cruise line notified the FBI which quickly ended its investigation and arrested no one.  The cruise line then undoubtedly terminated the crew member involved.  Like most (alleged) cruise rapes, this case ended as soon as it was reported.  The (alleged) victim will be left with no recourse except to file a civil case.  The fired crewmember will probably end up working on a Carnival cruise ship in six months. 

What happened in the cabin?   Did a rape occur?  I don't know, I was not there.  There will be no criminal jury impaneled to weigh the evidence. 

But whatever happened, one thing is certain - the minor was served a great deal of alcohol, sold by a crew member to another crew member, both of whom knew that the cruise line has a policy against serving minors with alcohol.  The minor appears to have been drinking the piña colada, two "Jaeggerbombs" and "a few more drinks" in public, undoubtedly in view of other crew members who were aware that minors can't be served alcohol and that crew members cannot "fraternize" with passengers, whether they are adults or minors.

Incidents like this do not happen in a sober environment or in a serious setting where security personnel are on alert.  When I read these type of stories or am contacted by women in similar situations, I am quickly reminded of the "anything goes" mentality of shipboard life on cruise ships.  Did the parents of the girl (who are not mentioned in the article) have any idea how many incidents of overserving minors and sexual assaults occur during cruises?

Royal Caribbean needs to improve its alcohol policies and procedures. It needs to warn parents about dangers like this.  Cruise lines earn hundreds of millions of dollars a year pushing the sale of alcohol, some of which is consumed by young girls who end up in places on cruise ships where they should not be alone. 

 

Photo credit:  Royal Caribbean drink menu via Cruise Critic  

ABC Nightline's "Crimes on a Cruise Ship" Video

ABC Nightline has posted the video of its program last night regarding the sexual assault of a 14 year old girl on the Carnival Freedom cruise ship.   Carnival crew member Hery Krispiyanto raped the child during a cruise in 2009.  

Passenger Sentenced to Jail for Sexually Assaulting Girl on Disney Cruise Ship

A passenger from New York has finally been imprisoned for sexually assaulting a 13 year old girl on the Disney Wonder cruise ship.

A year ago we reported on this crime - Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.

The girl's family sailed on the Disney Wonder in December 2006.  On New Year's Day January 2007, after the girl attended a program at the cruise ship's teen club with other girls, twenty-four year old Lucas George Wickes approached them and ordered them to return to their rooms. He told the girl to follow him because he was a security officer with the cruise ship.  When they reached an area where no other people were around, he then assaulted the girl. 

A federal district court sentenced Wickes to 46 months in prison and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $2,667. 

Princess Cruises Crew Member Arrested for "Sex Attack" Aboard Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship

The Bermuda Sun reports today that a Princess Cruises crew member has been arrested for what is described as a "sex attack" on a woman on a cruise ship.   The newspaper identifies Filipino Johnwill Reyes Abdon, age 40, as the crew member who allegedly committed the crime. 

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

Princess Cruises - Caribbean Princess - Sexual AssaultThe article does not mention whether the victim was a cruise passenger or another crew member.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are not rare, as the cruise industry leads the public to believe.  We have 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 latest incident 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 extremely rare. 

The trial will begin on March 7, 2011.

A Lost Cruise Trial, More Cruise Crime, More Cruise Drugs and Who Wants to Cruise to Mexico Anyway?

A super busy week took me away from the computer for the last week.  What a fun week at Cruise Law and in the strange world of cruising:    

Lose Some / Win Some:  A trial involving our client, an injured passenger, ended poorly for us and well for Royal Caribbean which obtained a defense verdict after a three day trial (and two years of litigation).  The case was defended by the law firm of Horr, Novak & Skipp.  Although he got popped last year with a verdict over $9,000,000 in a cruise line case, Mr. Horr is, in my opinion, the David Horr - Cruise Line Lawyerbest defense lawyer for the cruise lines in Miami.  Supported by the usual small army of cruise lawyers and support staff, he did his usual great job.  This is only the second case Cruise Law has lost in the past ten years.  We are consoled by the fact that the cruise line probably spent over $150,000 defending the case.  A $15,000,000,000 cruise line corporation which pays no U.S. taxes has money to burn.  It's a nice feeling to see good lawyers like Horr get paid lots of money, especially by the scoundrels at Royal Caribbean.       

Another Sexual Assault on the Love Boat?:  According to the LA Weekly Blogs, another alleged sexual assault aboard a Princess cruise ship has ended up in court.  California resident Marisa Foppoli claims in her lawsuit that a crew member aboard the Island Princess sexually assaulted her while cruising from Acapulco to Florida.  The passenger alleged that the crew member had a "prior, similar incident of misconduct" while employed aboard one of Princess' ships.

We have reported on sex crimes on cruise ships operated by Princess before:  Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships.  A Princess crew member tried last year for a sexual assault was acquitted last year - Love Boat Waiter Acquitted of Sexually Assaulting Passenger.

More Drugs on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship  Two weeks ago, we blogged about three Royal Caribbean crew members (cooks) who smuggled heroin and cocaine from the Dominican Republic during a stop of the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas and were arrested after the cruise ship reached Baltimore.  Well here we go again.  CBS News reports that $100,000 worth of cocaine and heroin were found in a crew only area on the same cruise ship which has been sailing from Baltimore to the Caribbean islands.      

Is it any surprise that Royal Caribbean galley workers earning less than $600 a month are enticed to supplement their income smuggling some smack and blow?   

Cruise, Crime, and Beheaded Mexicans is Hard to Sell:  Speaking of drugs, last week Carnival said Thursday that it is pulling the last of its cruise ships (the Carnival Spirit) out of southern California to Australia next year.

Mexico - Drug Violence - Cruise ShipsTomorrow Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas is making its final voyage from the Port of Los Angeles and will re-position to its new home base of Galveston, Texas. Norwegian Cruise Line's Star cruise ship will leave Los Angeles in a couple of months to reposition to Tampa.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that drug-related violence has meant fading interest in cruises to Mexico, the chief destination of California-based ships.  The AP reports that although the port officials and cruise industry have tried to emphasize that most violence in Mexico takes place away from cruise destinations, the message has a hard time "competing with images of beheaded bodies on the news."  Ugh.

But this is not new news.  Last summer we reported that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico.

Sexual assaults on the Love Boat?  Drugs on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?  And cruise lines unable to sell cruises to Mexico?    Nothing new here . . .

 

Photo credits: 

David Horr - Horr, Novak & Skipp

Mexican violence -   http://www.nocaptionneeded.com/

Horror On The High Seas - Jurisdictional Disputes Leave Foreign Crew Members In No Man's Land

A number of articles published this weekend reveal the plight of young women sexually assaulted on foreign flagged cruise ships and cargo vessels.

Yesterday, in Cruise Rape - Is Royal Caribbean Up To Its Old Tricks?, we reported that a South African crew member claims that another crew member raped her on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  The Captain of the cruise ship reportedly dismissed the rape as a "he said, she said" incident, and then sent her back to her home country.  If a U.S. crew member or passenger is victimized, the cruise line claims that it reports the crime to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.  The FBI has jurisdiction over such incidents.  But when a "foreign" crew member is raped, the case can fall into a no man's land.

Most Royal Caribbean cruise ships are flagged in the Bahamas.  Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia.  No one from these countries has any interest in or inclination of conducting a criminal investigation into the rape of a woman from South Africa.  And the country of South Africa has no jurisdiction to board a Bahamian flagged vessel operated by a Liberian corporation.       

Today, the Times Live newspaper in South Africa reports that a 19 year old cadet on the Safmarine Kariba cargo vessel was raped by a senior officer.  Ms. Akhona Geveza was completing her Akhona Geveza - Safmarine Kariba - Sexual Assaultcadetship to become a navigational officer.  After she reported being raped, her lifeless body was found floating in the water off the coast of Croatia.  It is unknown whether someone pushed her overboard or she committed suicide.

The terrible ordeal is explained in two articles "Teen's Horror on the High Seas" and "Legal Tangle Over Teen's Death at Sea."  The newspaper mentions a number of incidents of sexual assault and harassment of crew members.

The articles explain that what makes the case of Ms. Geveza difficult to investigate is that the ship is registered in Britain, Ms. Geveza is South African, the vessel was in Croatian waters, and the officer who allegedly committed the crime is Ukrainian. 

It has been our experience when we represent young women from outside the U.S., that the flag states (Bahamas, Bermuda, Liberia, and Panama) never conduct a criminal investigtion.  

A female cadets interviewed in one of the articles is quoted as saying: "We were told that the sea is no man's land and that what happens at sea, stays at sea . . . " 

 

Credits:

Photograph             Akhona Geveza - FaceBook

Cruise Rape - Is Royal Caribbean Up To Its Old Tricks?

A beauty therapist employed by Royal Caribbean reports that she was raped by another crew member, according to the Times Live newspaper in South Africa.   

The crew member, who is known by her first name, "Taryn," states that she was forced to leave the cruise industry after her ordeal aboard a cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean International.

Royal Caribbean Cruise - Rape - Cruise Ship - Sexual AssaultThe newspaper indicates that she was raped by a fellow South African, a fitness instructor, and sent home after reporting the incident. 

"I believe they sent me home to hide the case and protect their reputation - they didn't care about my wellbeing  .  .  .  the easy part was to get over the physical rape, the hard part was, and still is, trying to convince myself that I did the right thing by reporting the incident, despite being made to feel like I was in the wrong, despite still feeling like no justice was done and despite having no one but my family and friends to support me emotionally."

After she reported the matter, the cruise captain told her: "There are two stories, his and yours, but his sounds more believable, because you had been drinking."

She said she was advised to drop the matter or face an FBI investigation.  After she decided to drop the matter, "I was given two hours to pack my bags and say goodbye."

Her case is being handled by another maritime lawyer in Miami who states that  " . . . some crew members, especially the captains and other senior officials, have been blackmailing female cadets and crew members to have sex with them or face a miserable life at sea."

The report of the rape is made on the eve of President Obama signing the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which will require cruise lines to finally report all crimes which occur on cruise ships in international waters.  

We have reported many times about the high rate of rapes on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  In 2006, Royal Caribbean hired a former high ranking FBI official, Gary Bald, to head up what the Gary Bald - Royal Caribbean - Rape - Friend or Foe?cruise line now calls its "Global Security Department."  The question is whether Mr. Bald and his new team of ex-FBI agents are genuinely trying to protect the passengers and crew and help build a case against the rapists which have targeted Royal Caribbean passengers and crew members.  

Or is this business as usual, with the cruise line intimidating the victim and the cruise line taking the rapist's side of the story?

You will many similar stories like this coming from a cruise line like Royal Caribbean.

Stay tuned. 

 

Consider some of our other articles:

What To Do If You Are Sexually Harassed or Assaulted on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

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