Pedophile Passenger Who Molested Child on Liberty of the Seas, Arrested Again in Pittsburgh

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a 76 year-old man from Pennsylvania who went on a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2009 in a quest to molest boys has been arrested in Pittsburgh for "unlawful contact with a minor" and "corruption of minors," as well as providing false identification to law enforcement authorities.

As we reported in June 2010, 71 year-old Sherwood Stevenson went into the Liberty of the Seas water zone on the Liberty of the Seas and fondled a 6-year-old boy in December 2009. He attempted to fondle a second child in an adjoining Jacuzzi. Sexual Predator Abuses 6 Year Old Aboard Royal Sherwood StevensonCaribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

In November 2011, a judge sentenced Stevenson to nearly four years and nine months in federal prison,15 years' probation. Stevenson was required to pay a $10,000 fine and register as a sex offender.

Stevenson was released from jail in December 2014.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday that Stevenson tried offering candy to a student on a school field trip to a science center. A Pittsburgh teacher noticed Stevenson walking behind his school group. When the teacher approached Stevenson, he pointed to a 12-year-old boy and told the teacher, “I’m his grandfather, Woody.” Stevenson had asked the boy if he wanted candy and, “Do you want to go to the movies with me sometime?”

Stevenson spent almost 2 years in jail before his sentence on the cruise ship molestation case, so he subsequently served only approximately 3 years of his sentence in jail. His jail sentence seems short, especially considering that he is a repeat offender. This monster needs to be locked up for life. 

Parents should be aware that child predators are potentially everywhere, from schools trips to cruises. 

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

 

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Child Predator Jailed for Fondling Minor on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

Sherwood Stevenson - Child Predator - Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that a Federal Judge sentenced a Pittsburgh-area man 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.

According to the Republic newspaper, Stevenson fondled a 6-year-old boy while in a hot tub on the Royal Caribbean 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 reported on the crime last summer - Sexual Predator Abuses 6 Year Old Aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

The Federal Judge stated that Stevenson must serve 15 years' probation and pay a $10,000 fine.  He must also register as a sex offender. 

The report of this criminal sentence comes just a week after a 14 year old girl alleges she was raped:  Carnival Waiter Sexually Abuses a Minor Aboard Carnival's Liberty Cruise Ship.

Earlier this month a "serial rapist" was sentenced to 10 years for raping a 13 year old child during a Carnival cruise. 

Follow Up to Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Child Molester

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

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

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

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

Judge Denies Bond to Child Molester on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

 

Photo of Sherwood Stevenson:  KDKA Pittsburg

Passenger Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Minor on Carnival Cruise Ship

Dylan Cole Bloodsworth - Cruise Ship - Carnival - Sexual AssaultNews sources are reporting that a nineteen year old passenger was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor during a cruise aboard the Carnival Elation cruise ship.  Dylan Cole Bloodsworth (photo left) of Gautier, Mississippi was arrested by the FBI for abusing a minor while the cruise ship was sailing in international waters.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama will prosecute this matter, which was investigated by the FBI, Mobile Division.

The disturbing thing about this incident is that Mr. Bloodsworth was arrested a month ago for allegedly threatening to harm a 13 year old girl and her family unless she agreed to have sex with him. 

In an article entitled "Facebook Friendship Leads to Sexual Battery Charge" published on March 8, 2011, GufLive.com reported that Ms. Bloodsworth (photo right) faced "a sexual battery charge after Jackson County Sheriff's Department officers arrested him . . . " 

"The sheriff's office said parents of the alleged victim contacted them on February 23, 2011 alleging that Bloodsworth threatened to harm their 13-year-old daughter and her family unless she had sex with Dylan Cole Bloodsworth - Facebook Friendship - Sexual Assaulthim. The suspect and the child met on Facebook, an investigation revealed."

Bloodsworth had been transferred to a detention center.  The article indicates that Bloodsworth would remain incarcerated "until Judge T. Larry Wilson sets his bail."

It appears that Mr. Bloodsworth may have been on bail when he went on the cruise following the first incident arising out of the Facebook "friendship."   His Facebook page indicates that he was looking forward to going to Mexico early last month, just ten days after being arrested for the February 23rd incident.

Usually criminal suspects are not permitted to leave the jurisdiction when on bail, especially to go on a cruise ship with many minors.    

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

 

Photo credits:

Top:  AL.com

Bottom:  GulfLive.com

 

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

A newspaper in the U.K. reports that a cruise ship captain pled guilty last October to sex crimes against a 14 year old girl.  The Spalding Guardian newspaper identifies the sex criminal as Captain Peter Russell, who entered the girl's cabin, apparently when her parents were not present, and performed an unidentified sex act on her.    

The U.K. newspaper indicates that after the cruise, Captain Russell contacted the girl on the internet and made obscene suggestions about the girl’s breasts, urged her to perform a sex act, and requested that the girl take a photograph of herself naked and send it to him.  According to the Captain Peter Russell - Princess Cruises - Child Predator - Sex Crime article, the disturbing circumstances were revealed to the child's parents when the girl broke down in front of her father and showed him the online conversations. 

Captain Russell subsequently admitted to the unlawful sexual activity with a child on the cruise ship and over the internet.

As is often the case, the newspaper did not identify either the cruise line or the cruise ship where the crime occurred.  The available information on the internet indicates that Master Russell captained a number of different cruise ships for Princess Cruises, including the Sun Princess and Sea Princess.  We asked Princess Cruises for information about when this occurred, what cruise ship was involved, how long Captain Russell worked for Princess and what, if anything, it did when the crime was committed.  No response so far.      

We have written many articles about the danger of passengers leaving their children alone in cabins on cruise ships, and trusting the cabin stewards and waiters.  Little did even we consider the depravity of a captain of a cruise ship targeting a little girl like this.  Consider this observation of Captain Russell during a Princess cruise from an unsuspecting passenger:

"After a day or so at sea we realised the ship's good-humoured tone was hugely influenced by Captain Peter Russell, a warm Englishman who spreads himself around the passengers like a favourite uncle at a wedding. The crew adore him. Forty-five years at sea, from tankers to cruise ships, Captain Russell exudes nautical wisdom and is also a bubbling fount of humorous stories  .  .  ."  

Yikes!

We have also written several blogs about the problem of sexual predators on Princess Cruises and the disturbing attitude that this cruise line, known ironically for the iconic "Love Boat" series, has toward sexual crimes against women and children like this.  In my opinion, Princess Cruises has one of the best deserved reputations for sex crimes on its cruise ships and engaging in cover-ups of such crimes.  Take a moment and read:

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

Sexual Assault Reported on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun Cruise Ship     

Below is the unedited article from the Spalding Guardian:

SHIP CAPTAIN JAILED FOR TEEN SEX OFFENSES 

"A 'world class' cruise ship captain from Donington has been jailed for nine months for sex offences against a 14-year-old girl while she slept in her cabin.

Lincoln Crown Court heard on Thursday how Peter Russell (64), of Bicker Road, performed a sex act on a teenage girl while she was asleep in her bunk.

The victim thought she had dreamt the incident but it later came to light when Russell chatted to her on the internet on MSN Messenger and made obscene suggestions.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said Russell made comments about the girl’s breasts and urged her to perform a sex act while chatting to him over the internet.

Princess Cruises - Sex Crimes - Child Molestation Russell went on to request that the girl take a photograph of herself naked and send it to him.

The incidents came to an end when the girl broke down in front of her dad and showed him the records of her online conversations she had with Russell.

Russell admitted two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity together with sexual activity in the presence of a child and a further charge of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Sean Morris jailed Russell for nine months and placed him on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

The judge told Russell: 'You are a sea captain of great distinction and have a glittering reputation.'

'You have brought that crashing down.'

Russell worked throughout the world as a captain of oil tankers for the Esso oil company and, following his retirement, went on to skipper cruise ships.

William Powell, defending, said: 'He stands before the court an utterly humiliated person.'

'His outstanding career is in complete ruins. He is a man who has disgraced himself to an appalling extent.'

'He has spent almost his entire career at sea.'

'He retired from Esso at the age of 50 with a reputation as a world class player.'

'He was up there with the elite. He was hugely regarded.'

Mr Powell said that Russell went on to skipper cruise ships but his job came to an abrupt end following his arrest.

He urged the judge to show mercy to Russell who was previously a man of 'good character.'

 

March 27, 2011 Update: Princess Cruises provided the following information to us:

"We only found out about this incident when contacted by the Linconshire Police in May 2010.  Nothing about this incident was ever reported to us.  We understand that this involved a family member, and that the incident occurred in 2008.  We tried to get more information from the Police but they would not give us much because they said it had nothing to do with Princess.  He worked for Princess at the most 4 years.  He signed off  from the Sea Princess at the end of his contract in Dec. 2009.  He did not work on board any of our ships again." 

 

Photo credits:

Captain Peter Russell - Dick Drayer / Picasa Photo

Princess Cruise Ship  - TravelServer

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. 

Judge Denies Bond to Child Molester on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

A 72 year old from Pennslyvania who cruised on the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship last December remains in jail while awaiting trial on allegations that he traveled to Florida to molest boys on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. 

Sherwood Stevenson has been held in jail since his arrest in June on a charge of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.  The sexual abuse took place in Royal Caribbean's H20 Water H20 Water Park - Sexual PredatorPark, photo left (taken by Jim Walker). 

U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond in Pittsburgh presided over a detention hearing and denied a defense request seeking bond.

According to the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, Stevenson admitted to federal agents that he fondled a 6-year-old boy sitting next to him in a whirlpool sauna during the Royal Caribbean cruise.

Sexual abuse of children on cruise ships is a serious issue which the cruise lines don't like to talk about.  Here is our blog on this problem which we wrote in June:  

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

We have blogged regularly about the danger of children being sexually abused on cruises, particularly aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  In our experience, if your child is going to be sexually abused during a cruise - the chances are likely it will occur on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Here's the latest example:

Last December, Sherwood Stevenson, age 71, of Clinton, Pennsylvania booked a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas for the purpose of molesting children.  

Sexual Predator - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship CrimeAccording to multiple news sources, Stevenson went into the cruise ship's water zone on the Liberty of the Seas in December and fondled a 6-year-old boy.  He attempted to fondle a second child in an adjoining Jacuzzi. 

At a hearing before a Federal Magistrate in Pennsylvania, a FBI agent testified that Stevenson booked a trip on a Royal Caribbean cruise to "have a sexual encounter with a young boy."

Unlike most predators, he admitted to the sexual crimes on the cruise ship.

Federal prosecutors said that the cruise passenger has a a criminal past with other child sexual abuse charges.

The cruise line was able to keep the incident secret until the hearing today.  Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean like to keep these type of crimes away from the public's knowledge.

June 25, 2010 Update:

We received some interesting comments below from two of our readers, pointing out that parents should not permit their children to be in the water zone, or anywhere else on cruise ships, unsupervised.  I agree.  But the point is that most parents do not understand the number of sexual assaults which occur during cruises, and they are led by cruise lines and travel agents to believe that cruising is safe.

The photograph to the right is from the Royal Caribbean website under "Family Cruising."  The photograph is entitled H20 Zone Waterpark Fun!  It certainly looks like fun.  Lots of kids with no H20 Water Zone Fun - Royal Caribbean - Child Sexual Abuseparents in sight.  Royal Caribbean goes on to say:

"While the kids are away, having the time of their lives in our Adventure Ocean® youth program, mom and dad can play. Melt your stress away in our VitalitySM Spa, press your luck in Casino Royale®, take a yoga class in the Fitness Center, dance the night away in one of our themed bars, enjoy an intimate dinner together in one of our specialty restaurants, or order complimentary room service until midnight and simply enjoy a little quality time of your own. Go ahead, have the date night you've been wishing for, our Sitters at Sea service will entertain your kids . . ."     

The danger as I see it is that responsible parents often get caught up in the excitement of the cruise.  They let their guards down.  And the cruise lines promote the idea that they will take care of your kids while failing to provide proper warnings of the types of things that we report about on this blog. 

 For other information about sexual abuse on cruise ships read:

Carnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger 

Update: Sexual Assault Of Children On Cruise Ships

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

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

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

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

Sources: wpix.com   4ABC

Photo of Sherwood Stevenson:  KDKA Pittsburg

Photo of H20 Zone Waterpark      Royal Caribbean Cruises

 

Comments:

Carolyn Barkley:

If parents attended to their children most of these examples wouldn't happen. I'm amazed at how many parents allow their children to run in all areas of the ship without guidance. The companies have specific, safe areas for children and the adult pools, hot tubs, elevators, etc. are NOT designated safe areas. Yes, the ship's have cameras but it only take a minute for these sick-o's to strike. When are parents going to take some of the responsibility for the control of their children? Predators are everywhere ~ malls, parks, beaches ~ so why do parents think that when you board a ship anything will be different?

UK Cruises:

Jim, I read your blog regularly with interest. When I first came accross it, I didn't realise the cruise industry would be such a hive of activity for the world of Law! And stories are getting more and more disturbing! I'm afraid I have to agree with Carolyn - parents shouldn't be creating an occassion where their children can fall into these evil hands! When it comes to Royal Caribbean, I hear time and time again client's appreciation of the fact that they can get off in ports of call and leave their children with the minders... Whilst this is perfectly safe, why do parents want to do this. They take a family holiday but can't wait to get shut of their children. An element of laziness comes into it with parents where once they all become familiar with the ship, it feels like a safe enclosed little community and they become complacent with letting their children run round as if in their own home. The 3000 other passengers may share the ship with you, but nobody knows each other from Adam!!! This situation should never have been able to occur. A 6 year old should have been constantly under adult supervision! It isn't just the danger of sexual predators - why was a 6 year old unsupervised in water???

Jim Walker:

Carolyn and U.K. Cruises. I agree with you both. However, the focus should not be on criticizing the parents but to educate the public that it is not safe to leave the kids alone on cruises and you drop your kids off with "certified" counselors at your own risk. Cruise lines like RCCL like to say it's safe, but it's not. I posted an update to explain this further. I do greatly appreciate your comments and good points!

Scare Mom:

Having worked in an area with children that were abused over 20 years ago, I do not let my children leave my sight. Because I do not trust people. Anyway now we are scheduled for a cruise in August, and I wanted to leave my 7 year old in the children area with Supervise workers while we tour an Island, Now I'm scared as hell!

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

In May, we reported the arrest of a 30 year old bartender who was arrested after sexually assaulting a 14 year old passenger cruising with her parents on Carnival's Freedom cruise ship - Carnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger.  

Today a Federal District Court Judge in Orlando sentenced cruise ship bartender, Hery KrispiyantoHery Krispiyanto - Carnival Bartender Rape , to over three years and to pay about $4,360 in restitution. 

The Orlando Sentinel covered the story in an article "Cruise Bartender Sentenced to Prison for Teen's Rape."

The minor girl told investigators that she was alone on the upper deck of the cruise ship when crew member Krispiyanto walked up behind her, grabbed her arm and pulled her into a nearby employee-only room and closed the door. The incident occurred in April 2009 and the girl told her parents in August.  Sexual assaults of minors on cruise ships are often not reported right away due to embarrassment.

Sexual assault of children is something the cruise lines like to keep secret.  We have discussed other cases before and you can read them about here.   

Passenger Pleads Guilty to Sexually Assaulting Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Lucas G. Wickes, age 25, of Rochester New York pleaded guilty in federal court to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl on January 1, 2007, on board the Disney cruise ship Disney Wonder after it left Port Canaveral for a Caribbean cruise.

The passenger approached the girl when she left a teen club on the cruise ship and ordered her to accompany him. The girl, who said she believed he was a security officer, followed him to the stern Disney Wonder Cruise Ship - Sexual Assaultof the cruise ship where the adult assaulted her. 

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

We have written about the sexual assault of children in prior blogs:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

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?

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

We have blogged regularly about the danger of children being sexually abused on cruises, particularly aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  In our experience, if your child is going to be sexually abused during a cruise - the chances are likely it will occur on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Here's the latest example.

Last December, Sherwood Stevenson, age 71, of Clinton, Pennsylvania booked a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas for the purpose of molesting children.  

Sexual Predator - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship Crime According to multiple news sources, Stevenson went into the cruise ship's water zone on the Liberty of the Seas in December and fondled a 6-year-old boy.  He attempted to fondle a second child in an adjoining Jacuzzi. 

At a hearing before a Federal Magistrate in Pennsylvania, a FBI agent testified that Stevenson booked a trip on a Royal Caribbean cruise to "have a sexual encounter with a young boy."

Unlike most predators, he admitted to the sexual crimes on the cruise ship.

Federal prosecutors said that the cruise passenger has a a criminal past with other child sexual abuse charges.

The cruise line was able to keep the incident secret until the hearing today.  Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean like to keep these type of crimes away from the public's knowledge.

June 25, 2010 Update:

We received some interesting comments below from two of our readers, pointing out that parents should not permit their children to be in the water zone, or anywhere else on cruise ships, unsupervised.  I agree.  But the point is that most parents do not understand the number of sexual assaults which occur during cruises, and they are led by cruise lines and travel agents to believe that cruising is safe.

H20 Zone Waterpark Fun! - Royal Caribbean - Sexual AssaultThe photograph to the right is from the Royal Caribbean website under "Family Cruising."  The photograph is entitled H20 Zone Waterpark Fun!  It certainly looks like fun.  Lots of kids with no parents in sight.  Royal Caribbean goes on to say:

"While the kids are away, having the time of their lives in our Adventure Ocean® youth program, mom and dad can play. Melt your stress away in our VitalitySM Spa, press your luck in Casino Royale®, take a yoga class in the Fitness Center, dance the night away in one of our themed bars, enjoy an intimate dinner together in one of our specialty restaurants, or order complimentary room service until midnight and simply enjoy a little quality time of your own. Go ahead, have the date night you've been wishing for, our Sitters at Sea service will entertain your kids . . ."     

The danger as I see it is that responsible parents often get caught up in the excitement of the cruise.  They let their guards down.  And the cruise lines promote the idea that they will take care of your kids while failing to provide proper warnings of the types of things that we report about on this blog. 

 

For other information about sexual abuse on cruise ships read:

Carnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger 

Update: Sexual Assault Of Children On Cruise Ships

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

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

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

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

 

Sources: wpix.com   4ABC

Photo of Sherwood Stevenson:  KDKA Pittsburg

Photo of H20 Zone Waterpark      Royal Caribbean Cruises

Costa Crew Member Caught With Child Pornography

Another crew employee was caught trying to enter Canada from a cruise ship with child pornography.

The Chronicle Herald in Canada published an article today entitled "Cruise Ship Waiter Caught With Child Pornography." The newspaper reports that Canada Border Services Agency officer arrested an assistant waiter on the Costa Atlantica on Tuesday as he was getting off the cruise ship at Pier 22 in Halifax.

Costa AtlanticaJay-Ar Ramos Trilles, 23, of the Philippines pleaded guilty today in Halifax provincial court to charges of possessing and importing child pornography.

Two sexually explicit videos of children were found on both a USB flash drive and a laptop computer.  One of the videos depicted a boy and a girl between the ages of 10 and 12, while the other showed a six-year-old girl being sexually abused by a man. The prosecutor in Canada stated that the border agency is determined to keep such "abhorrent" material from being brought into the country.

Trilles worked with Costa Cruises for three years. 

We have written about other crew members and cruise passengers being arrested for child pornography in other articles:


Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Another Crew Member Arrested for Child Pornography

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

 

Photograph credit:           Costa Atlantica cruise ship - Wikipedia (EnDumEn)

Update: Sexual Assault Of Children On Cruise Ships

The Vancouver Observer published an interesting article today which addressed, as the newspaper called it, the "moral dilemmas associated with cruise tourism."

The article was entitled the "Cost of Cruising," by Dr. Ross Klein.  In addition to addressing the effects of cruise pollution, it raised the issue of crime aboard cruise ship - particularly sexual assaults:

Cruise Ships - Sexual Abuse - Child Predator  "The rate of sexual assault and sexual harassment on Royal Caribbean International’s ships in the period 2003 – 2005 was approximately 50 percent higher than the rate in Canada.  

The rate of sexual assault on Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships from October 2007 - October 2008 similarly was 50 percent higher than the rate in Canada.  These assaults were perpetrated by crew members as well as by passengers, and the victims were both crew members and passengers.

It is astonishing that more than 17.5 percent of the sexual assault victims were minors – children under the age of 18.  While Royal Caribbean International appears to have improved its record between 2003 – 2005 and 2007 – 2008, the problem still exists.  Passengers need to be aware that cruise ships are not as safe as purported to be, and that they (and their children) need to take the same precautions on board a ship as they do in any major city." 

Dr. Klein's resarch led him to conclude at least 79 minors were sexually assaulted from 2003 - 2005 on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

We recently discussed the issue of sexual abuse of children on cruise ships.  This is a very real risk.  The cruise industry tries to keep these crimes secret from the U.S. public.

 

Photo Credit:             Mail Online

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

Cruise Critic ran an article last week about the Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  When Cruise Critic claimed "Cruise Ships are Family Friendly" and posted the photographs from a Royal Caribbean teen center (below), I had heard and seen enough.  I responded with my article "Top Ten Reasons Not To Cruise." 

Here's reason no. 1:

Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

The purpose of my article is not to convince anyone not to cruise, but to educate consumers regarding the dangers inherent in and the consequences of cruising.  It you want to cruise, that's your business not mine.  But at least educate yourself before you expose your family to danger. 

Sexual Abuse - Children - Cruise Ships - Sexual PredatorsSome Facts:

The cruise industry is big, rich, and growing.  It is a real juggernaut.  Cruises are cheap and considered to be "good deals."    

Close to fourteen million passengers will sail this year on cruise ships from companies based in the U.S.  The cruise industry claims that 95% of the passengers believe that cruising is a positive experience.  And I have no reason to dispute that figure.  But that leaves 5%, or around 700,000 people, with a negative experience.  Included in this group are parents whose children were raped or sexually molested on cruise ships.

Cruise lines are not legally obligated to report sexual assaults of children, or any crimes for that matter.  Currently pending before the U.S. Senate is the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act, which will require - for the first time - that crimes be reported to the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard. When this law is enacted, cruise lines will also be required to reveal the crimes to the U.S. public via a link on their web pages.

But at the current time, the only sources of information are when courts order the cruise lines to reveal the crimes during lawsuits.  One good source of information is Dr. Ross Klein's CruiseJunkie.  Dr. Klein testified before our U.S. Congress several times and concluded that "Your Risk of Being Sexually Assaulted is Much Higher on a Cruise Ship Than in the Average American City."  Based on data we obtained in court cases, Dr. Klein concluded that at least 79 children were sexually assaulted or harassed on Royal Caribbean cruise ships alone from 1998 to 2005.

Our Experiences:   

The first case I handled involving sexual abuse of a minor on a cruise ship was in 1999.  A pedophile crew member gave a 14 year old boy a dozen glasses of champagne and took him back to his cabin.  He shaved the boy's pubic hair off and molested him when was was unconscious.  The cruise line responded by offering the family 50% of their cruise fare for their troubles.

Since then, we have handled over 70 cases involving sexual assault, with many children as victims.  We obtained, via a Court order, several secret internal studies by Royal Caribbean which concluded that sexual misconduct on cruise occurs "frequently."  At the same time, the cruise line's PR people were telling the American public that sexual assaults during cruises was "rare."  We also obtained spread sheets which revealed that there were 273 incidents of sexual Teen Activity Center - Sexual Assault - Sexual Abuse - Childrenmisconduct on the Royal Caribbean fleet for a period of three years, including rape and sexual abuse of minors.

A False Sense of Security

Parents believe that they can turn their children over to the "teen activity centers" or that the kids are safe alone in their cabins or walking the hallways and decks of the ship.  Parents are encouraged to let their guard down, grab a cocktail or two, and relax. 

The number one crime we see on cruise ships is when the parents stay out late at the disco or casino, and they leave their 12 year old son or 14 year old daughter alone in the cabin.  Many kids get tired after a fun day at the pool or after an excursion ashore, and they don't want to go to the second seating at dinner.  There are far too many cases where the cabin attendant will use their key card to access the cabin when the parents are away. 

Victim organizations, like International Cruise Victims (ICV), have proposed good recommendations to address this problem.  The ICV proposes deactivating the key cards of crew members after hours so they can't use them to get into the passenger cabins, using female cabin attendants rather than 25 year old males, or assigning supervisors to monitor the passenger cabins.  Most cruise lines have ignored these recommendations, and conduct business as usual.  Just last week we were contacted by the parents of a 16 year old sexually abused by a crew member who used a key card to get into the cabin when the parents were away.   

The other most likely scenario is when men or older teenagers target 13 and 14 year olds in the youth programs or confront them when they are trying to make their way back to their cabins.  To get an idea of how this happens, consider reading Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship.

No Background Checks, Too Much Alcohol and Too Little Security

Cruise lines do not perform background checks on their crew members.  They rely on the hiring agents around the world to (hopefully) do that for them.  But what kind of a pre-employment investigation can be done in Nicaragua, India, St. Vincent, or Belize?  There are no computer databases or depositories of information for criminals or sexual predators in countries like these.  The other problem is that cruise lines do not share their crime data.  When Royal Caribbean fires a sexual predator, he can find work on another cruise line, like Princess Cruises, within a few months.  We have seen it happen. 

Sexual Abuse - Children - Cruise Ships - Sexual PredatorsA major problem on cruise ships is alcohol.  Cruise lines earn literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year selling booze.  Older teenagers or young men can entice 15 and 16 year old girls to go back to their cabins and drink.  Parents who have zealously watched over their children for 15 years can find themselves with no clue where their kids may be during much of the cruise.  The Oasis of the Seas, for example, has several thousand cabins.  A lot can go wrong by behind these closed cabin doors.   

Compounding matters is that cruise ships have few security guards. Sometimes as few as two guards are on duty at night, and they do not actually patrol the passenger hallways.  Most cruise ships have hundreds of waiters, assistant waiters, bar tenders and bar servers who work on only $50 a month plus tips, and whose job it is to push alcohol sales.  But security guards?  Maybe 2 or 3 are on duty at any one time, and they are responsible for the safety of 2,000 - 3,000 guests? 

Cruise Ships Hide Information and Destroy Evidence

In the U.S., you can obtain a crime grid for every business and residential address in the U.S.  If you want to know whether the local child care facility or sleepover camp has had a crime in the past, just ask the local police to run a crime report and the information is there for the asking.  But cruise lines keep the crimes secret.  Trust us, they say.  We will take care of your kids.  Don't worry, have fun.

But when things goes wrong, the cruise line will treat your family like criminals. There is no independent security or police authorities aboard the ship. You are on the high seas - a no man's land - often thousands miles from the closet FBI office.  Cruise lines are notorious for covering crimes up.  They do not want the legal liability or public spectacle of a crew member being led off their cruise ships in handcuffs.  They will defend their employee and accuse little Susie of making things up.  That's why some cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, have never had a single crew member convicted of sexual assault of a minor in the company's 40 year history.

And as long as no one gets convicted, sexual predators know that nothing will happen to them if they go on a cruise.  Its the perfect place to sexually abuse a child.   

We have written many articles about the problem with children being sexually assaulted during cruises:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships 

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

Another Crew Member Arrested for Child Pornography  

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids 

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

Tomorrow, we will discuss reason no. 2 not to cruise: Cruise Ships Are A Perfect Place to Commit A Crime, And Get Away With It!

 

Do you agree, disagree, or have a comment to make?  Let us hear from you in the comments below.

 

Credits:

Teen center photograph        Royal Caribbean Cruises (via Cruise Critic)

Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise

The popular on line cruise community CruiseCritic.com recently ran an article "Top 10 Reasons To Cruise."  By the time I read reason number 3 - "Cruise Ships are Family Friendly" - I was repulsed enough that I felt compelled to explain why the Cruise Critic article was dangerously inaccurate.

Cruise Critic published the photo (below) of the "family friendly' environment touted on cruise ships, with the photograph courtesy of Royal Caribbean Cruises.  Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean has by Top Ten Reasons Not To Cruisefar the worst problem with sexual predators of any line we have ever seen. Children have been targeted by sexual predators in child centers and raped after leaving the centers and trying to get back to the cabins.    

No parent would ever send their kids to a teen center or leave them alone in a cabin if they knew what this cruise line knows - that sexual assaults occur frequently on cruise ships.    

So here's the other side of the story - 10 Reasons Not to Cruise:

No. 1: Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

No. 2: Cruise Ships Are A Perfect Place to Commit A Crime, And Get Away With It!

No. 3: Carnival, Royal Caribbean And NCL Are Corporate Felons

No. 4: If You Are A Victim On A Cruise Ship, The Cruise Line Will Treat You Like A Criminal

No. 5: If You Are Retired Or A Child, The Cruise Line Considers Your Life Worthless

No. 6:  If The Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad

No. 7:  Cruise Lines Exploit Foreign Crew Members, Like You'd Never Believe

No. 8:  Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater

No. 9:  Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!      

No. 10:  Cruise Lines Avoid All U.S. Taxes By Registering in Places Like Panama and Liberia.

If travel agents are going to hawk cruises by advertising all of the reasons why you should take your family on a cruise, trust us that we will provide you with the other side of the story. 

Make your own informed decision how to spend your vacation with your family.   

Tomorrow, we will discuss "Why Cruise Lines Are a Perfect Place to Sexually Abuse Children."

 

Credits:

Photograph          Royal Caribbean Cruises (via CruiseCritic.com)

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

A newspaper in Rochester, New York reported yesterday that a passenger was indicted for sexually abusing a thirteen year old girl during a cruise back in December of 2006.  The passenger is alleged to have threatened to throw the child overboard if she called for help.

Lucas George Wickes - Sexual Abuse - Disney Wonder Cruise ShipTwenty-four year old Lucas George Wickes (photo left), of Rochester, New York, was indicted for the felony offenses of sexual abuse and aggravated sexual abuse of a minor on the high seas. 

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York issued a press release last September entitled "Rochester Man Charged In Aggravated Sexual Abuse On High Seas Case." 

According to the press release, "on or about December 31, 2006, a 13-year-old female boarded a cruise ship departing from Port Canaveral, Florida to embark on a cruise with her family. In the early morning hours of January 1, 2007, after attending the teen nightclub, the female was walking around the decks with a couple of other teenagers when they were approached by the defendant who indicated that they should be returning to their cabins. The female followed defendant who took her to another deck and then forced her to take her pants off and perform oral sex on him, threatening to throw her overboard if she screamed . . "

We have written about the sexual assault of children in prior blogs:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

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?

Disney Wonder - Sexual Assault - Sexual Abuse - Minors  What is striking about the U.S. Attorney's press release and the news articles "covering" this story is that the name of the cruise line is not mentioned.  We see this quite a bit.  Law enforcement and/or reporters sometimes try and protect the cruise lines from bad press.  

Another website identifies the cruise ship as the Disney Wonder.

It is a real disservice when the name of the cruise line is kept secret.  Many parents have a false sense that their kids are safe on cruises.  We have learned of sex crimes like this on cruise ships, even on cruise ships which cater to families.   

 

Credits: 

Disney Wonder Kid's Club           MPR529 Flickr Photostream via Hub Pages

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

Cruise Ship Crime Today I read a travel agency's twitter feed "Safety for Children on Cruise Ships."  I am interested in this issue after representing 60 clients sexually assaulted on cruise ships, including children.

I was hoping to see some good safety tips in the article to keep children safe. Boy was I disappointed.  Not only were there no useful safety tips but the travel agents made the following comment:

 . . . most parents also like the fact that a cruise also allows you to spend some time apart from your kids, knowing that they are well taken care of.

Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity and many other cruise lines have special programs for children, supervised by crew members who are specially qualified and trained to work with kids.

Unfortunately, this is simply not true.

We have represented many families whose children have been molested by youth counselors on cruise ships.  Other children have been victimized by crew members or even other passengers when they were suppose to be under the supervision of the counselors.  Others have been taken into cabins by older teenagers and men and raped when they were trying to walk back to their cabins after the kid's activities ended.  

Another dangerous situation is when parents leave their kids in the cabin to see a show, or they want to stay up late in the casino or disco. A cabin attendant can open the cabin door with his pass key when the parents are away. As I have said in a prior article, leaving a 12 year old boy or his 14 year old sister alone in a cabin is a bad idea.

Cruise lines suggest that the crew members are carefully screened before they are hired.  Nonsense.  

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

Many travel agents shy away from unpleasant facts.  But it is another thing to affirmatively represent that children are safe and crew members are "specially qualified and trained." 

Exactly what "special qualifications" does the crew member you entrust your child have?  Why don't you ask the crew member before you drop your child off in the "kid's club."  Don't be surprised when they look at you with a puzzled face. 

If you are a travel agent reading this - do you think that you face liability if you make a representation that kids are safe to a client and a crew member molests your client's child during the cruise you just sold?  I know the answer.  Do you?  

Before you make a false statement in the hope of making a sale, take a moment and read the following articles:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships 

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

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

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

From time to time, Cruise Law News will have a guest blogger.  Caitlin Burke is our first guest author.  Ms. Burke is a recent graduate from the University of Florida.  She majored in Recreation, Parks and Sport Management.  Ms. Burke wrote a senior honor's thesis entitled a "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships."  

She is working as a case manager for Walker & O'Neill as she prepares for law school.  We are lucky to have her at our firm.  Caitlin BurkeMs. Burke addresses the danger of parents leaving their kids in child care facilities on cruise ships:   

Don't Lose Touch With Your Kid On Cruise Ships   

A recent article, posted by a travel agent, entitled "Why Cruises are the Best Vacations with Kids," states several reasons why cruising with children is such a "great idea."

In theory, if all of the points were as fun-filled and squeaky clean as portrayed in the article, then yes, I would 100% agree that cruising with children is a great way to rid you and your better-half of all responsibility for your kids.  After all, this is a "family" vacation and you’ve earned it. What better way to spend it then drinking booze and frolicking in the sun while your kids are conveniently being monitored by untrained, overworked staff?

Parents - Don't Let Your Child Be A Cruise Crime Statistic  

This article upsets me not because I think family vacation should indeed involve the whole family. But because this "have fun while your children spend the day in the child activity center" leads parents to believe (thanks to great advertisements) that their child is indeed being monitored by qualified staff members.  After working at a small maritime law firm in Miami for only a couple months, I’ve already seen two cases involving minors who were sexually assaulted when they were supposedly being monitored at a teen activity center.

Let me restate this, 2 kids sexually assaulted in 2 months.

In my opinion, if this were to happen in a daycare or teen center anywhere in the U.S., it would be broadcasted nationally and investigated thoroughly.  Everyone would be asking how did this happen?  How did the adult get to the child?  Who was suppose to supervise the the child?  Was a background check conducted?

Caitlin BurkeYou better believe the media would be all over the story.  But because the assaults occurred on a foreign cruise ship in international waters (not to mention an effective effort on behalf of the cruise line to keep the mater hushed up), the stories hardly get covered and few questions are asked.

Cruise lines are notorious for failing to conduct thorough background checks on employees.  They are notorious for promoting the teen centers and advertising "just how safe they are."  And they’re notorious for covering up sexual assaults and rapes on their cruise ships.

Responsible Parents Ask Questions Regarding Responsibility

So before you kick back, grab a cocktail, and float away into oblivion, take a moment and ask yourself a few questions:

1.  Are the cruise line counselors who you are entrusting your kids to really qualified? Consider asking them - how long have they worked on the cruise ship, and what makes them qualified?

2.  Will your children actually be supervised? Will they stay in the activities center?  If they leave the center, will they be supervised?  How many supervisors are there?  Can the kids run wild on the ship? 

3.  Can your child use a walkie-talkie and be reached at all times?

4.  Are older teenagers permitted to mingle with the 13 and 14 year olds?  Are adults permitted into the centers?

5.  Has any child been molested or sexually assaulted on the cruise ship?

Keep your guard up.  Don't let a cruise vacation of a lifetime turn into a nightmare. 

 

Are you are interested in this issue?  Then consider reading Jim 's blog entitled: Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships.

Would you like to be a guest blogger regarding issues of cruise safety?  The rights of passengers and crew members?  The protection of the environment from cruise pollution?  Then email me at caitlin@cruiselaw.com and be our next guest blogger . . .    

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

The Virginia Pilot newspaper reports that a passenger was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for downloading child pornography. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents arrested passenger Timothy David Webb, 32, after he disembarked Royal Caribbean's cruise ship Cruise passenger sex offenderGrandeur of the Seas at the Norfolk cruise ship terminal.  Webb is a convicted sex offender and has a conviction in 2000 for 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.

Caught By U.S. Federal Agents - Not By the Cruise Line  

I have written about the problem of crew members, as well as passengers, with child porno on cruise ships.  They are usually caught, not by the cruise line, but when custom agents view their laptops or iPhones and discover the pornographic images. 

In an articles entitled "Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships" and "Another Crew Member Arrested for Child Pornography," I discussed crew members from Carnival and NCL cruise ships recently being arrested in Canada for pornography on their laptops and computers.

The web site "Cruise Ship Sex Offenders" lists some of the sex offenders who have worked or sailed on cruise ships.