Cruise Ships Without Lifeguards: Shame On You!

NC: Cruise Shihp DrowningIn the last nine months, four children age 6 or younger have drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships.

A 4 year child remains brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy.  A 6 year old child is dead after drowning on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory.  A 4 year old is dead and his 6 year old brother is seriously injured after similar tragedies on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway.  

Cruise passenger Joe Boris, age 39, witnessed the NCL tragedies. He is motivated to convince the cruise industry to provide greater protection to children.

WTSB quotes Mr. Boris saying: "How can this happen? Why was there no lifeguard on board?" Boris said. "These cruise ships are money-making cash cows and to (make you) pay $11 for one drink. There's no reason why they can't supply a lifeguard at the pools."

"They boast on how this is a $900 million vessel holding almost 4,100 passengers, 1,600 crew members and they always say safety is of course their number one priority.  

"I honestly have to say to them, shame on you," Boris said. "Shame on you because there's no reason you cannot have or you shouldn't have a lifeguard present on board those ships."

There is absolutely no excuse for a cruise line, which pays absolutely no U.S. income taxes, not to invest in lifeguards. a dime from every passenger would more than pay for the lifeguards.  Here are some of our recent articles:

Dangerous Disney Cruise Ship Swimming Pool: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Dead Filipinos, Dead Children & Other Cruise Line Madness

This week several people died during cruises on ships owned by Carnival Corporation.  A young seafarer died on the Carnival-owned Cunard Queen Victoria cruise ship.  A crew member from the Carnival Conquest was crushed to death at the port of New Orleans. And most tragically, a 6 year-old boy needlessly drown on the Carnival Victory in a swimming pool which, incredibly, did not have a life-guard.     

What do all of these seemingly unrelated incidents have in common?  

Because of antiquated laws and recent legal developments advanced by the cruise industry, the cruise Qwentyn Hunter - Carnival Cruise Shipline will escape virtually all legal accountability for the deaths.

Let's look first at the sad case of little 6 year old Qwentyn Hunter who died on the Carnival Victory last week. He died underwater in a swimming pool that Carnival decided not to supervise with a lifeguard for, what I believe to be, purely financial reasons.

A child on vacation dead at age 6.

Is it foreseeable that a child may drown in a pool?  Of course. We have written recently about a 4 year old boy who is severely brain injured after slipping under the water on a cruise ship Disney which also didn't bother to assign a lifeguard to the pool.    

Put aside the debate whether the boy's death was a lack of personal responsibility of the parents or a lack of corporate responsibility due to the the malfeasance of the cruise line (or both), what is the maximum exposure presented to Carnival?

The answer, sadly, is just the child's burial and burial expenses. How is that possible?

There is a law in the U.S. called The Death On The High Seas Act ("DOHSA").  

DOHSA is an archaic law enacted in 1920 which provides only "pecuniary" losses to the survivors of someone who dies on the high seas. "Pecuniary" damages means only those financial losses, such as lost wages or medical expenses, suffered by those who are dependent on the dead person. In cases of a dead child or a dead retiree, there are no lost wages and no one dependent on the child or retiree for support. In Qwentyn's situation, there are obviously no lost wages or medical expenses.  So all that the family could possibly receive in compensation after an expensive, long-drawn-out lawsuit is whatever it costs to bury a child these days.      

If the cruise line is negligent for a child's death in an unattended pool, it will pay a maximum of $10,000 or so if liability is proven. Big deal. From a financial perspective, the cruise line is ahead of the game by not paying millions to employ lifeguards on over a hundred Carnival cruise ships to keep the kids safe. Carnival's Micky Arison, worth over 5 billion dollars, gets to keep his bounty.    

Cruise lines love DOHSA. It exculpates the cruise lines when they act irresponsibly.  The cruise industry has lobbied hard against amending the law.  Read about that here and here. Don't miss reading: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  

Crew members who die due to the negligence of the cruise lines face the same hardship of DOHSA. 

But that's not all. The cruise lines have also fought tooth & nail to keep the claims of "foreign" crew members outside of the U.S. legal system and deprive injured crew members from having their cases heard by U.S. juries by insisting that they resolve their cases through "arbitration."  

Read about this injustice here. The Filipinos face a "schedule" of compensation depending on the Filipino Crew Member - Cruise - Burn Unitinjury. A lost finger, or hand, or an arm may result in an award of only $7,500 or $25,000 or $35,000. A death? $50,000, plus only $7,000 per child with a limit of 4 children. 

One of the worst cases involved a Filipino crew member who received 35% burns on his body in a clear case of the vessel operator's negligence. At the ship owner's request, the disabled and disfigured crew member's case was dismissed from the U.S. legal system and sent to Manila where a Kangaroo Court awarded the burned Filipino just $1,870.00 (US).

The cruise lines don't want you to understand what happens when the nice, smiling Filipino waiters or bartenders who serve your family subsequently are seriously injured or die on cruise ships. It is fundamentally different and absolutely unfair compared to when people are injured or die on land. 

And this is exactly how the multi-billion dollar cruise industry wants it.  

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

Is Child Pornography Widespread on Cruise Ships?

Last week we reported on an arrest of a Holland American Line (HAL) crew member from the Veendam cruise ship on charges of possessing and importing images of child pornography.

I mentioned that the arrest was one of six arrests of crew members for child pornography in the port of Halifax Canada alone.  The arrests involved crew members from a wide variety of cruise ships, including the Cunard Queen Mary 2, Carnival Glory, Carnival Triumph, Costa Atlantica, Norwegian Jewel, and HAL Veendam.

Cruise Ship Child PornographyBut these incidents are just a small percentage of the total number of crew members arrested by the Canadian authorities for possessing child pornography on cruise ships entering ports in Canada.

A spokesperson for the Canada Border Service Agency stated that there have been fifty-six (56) seizures of child pornography from ships in Canadian ports from 2009 - 2012:

2012: 6 seizures of child porn.
2011: 17 seizures of child porn.
2010: 14 seizures of child porn.
2009: 19 seizures of child porn. 

We have reported on child pornographers and child predators in many other articles, including some very disturbing cases like this crew member on a Celebrity cruise ship

Yes, there are perverts everywhere, but few parents who cruise realize that the problem exists on cruise ships as well.  Unfortunately, Canada is the only country where the customs and border authorities are serious about searching crew member computers and putting the perverts in jail. 
   

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: 

 

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Middle Photo: WKMG Channel 6 Orlando 

Bottom Photo: Milton Bragnanza Facebook

Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Returns to Port with Medical Emergencies

Disney Fantasy Cruise ShipThe Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Disney Fantasy cruise ship returned to Port Canaveral yesterday night shortly after sailing from the Florida port after 2 passengers experienced medical emergencies. 

The medical emergencies involved a 6 year old child with diabetes and a 77 year old man with a heart condition. 

The Disney cruise ship initially sailed from Port Canaveral around 5 PM but returned at around 8:30 PM to disembark the two passengers for emergency medical treatment at a local hospital.

Readers will recall that the Disney Fantasy was the location of a near-drowning last week when a 4 year old child slipped below the water in the Donald Pool which is not staffed with a lifeguard.  The incident sparked a debate about parental responsibility and whether the pool was safely designed and adequately staffed. You can read about that incident here

 

Photo Credit: Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel

Swimming Pool Mishap on Disney Fantasy Sends 4 Year Old to Hospital

Disney Fantasy Cruise ShipNewspapers are reporting that a four year-old boy was pulled from a pool on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship, taken to Cape Canaveral Hospital, and then airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. 

The incident occurred after the boy's family had boarded the ship and before it had left Port Canaveral in Brevard County,

Brevard County medical personnel arrived on the cruise ship to respond to the incident which occurred around 3:30 p.m. The incident was describes as a "potential drowning" at the family pool. The articles on line indicate the boy had a pulse when taken from the cruise ship.

Comments are being made on the on-line Disney message boards that the child’s parents were not in the pool when the accident happened but ran over while emergency rescuers worked on the boy. There was no lifeguard at this particular swimming pool although the cruise line positions lifeguards near the water-slides some cruisers are saying. 

April 1, 2013 Update: Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships? 

Photo Credit: Fodors

Disney Ready to Start Inaugural Season from Miami, While Questions Remain About Disappearance of Disney Youth Counselor

Disney Cruise Line has kicked off its promotion of the Disney Wonder cruise ship sailing from Miami starting December 23, 2012.  

Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel newspaper reports today that "Captain Mickey Mouse officially kicked-off the countdown for the arrival of the Disney Wonder to PortMiami with a Disney-style unveiling of a larger than life banner proclaiming “See You Real Soon.”

This will be the first time a Disney cruise ship has home-ported in South Florida.

Readers of my blog will recall that the Disney Wonder has a rather notorious history as the cruise ship from which a young English woman "disappeared" last year.

In March 2011, twenty-four year old Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam somehow "vanished" from the Wonder while it was sailing on a Mexican itinerary from Southern California. The Coriam family feels that Disney has been less than forthcoming with information regarding their daughter's situation. They believe that the cruise line has not cooperated with them in finding out exactly what happened on the Disney cruise ship.

Because Disney flagged its ship in the Bahamas to avoid taxes and labor laws, official responsibility for Rebecca Coriam - Disney Cruise - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipinvestigating disappearances from Bahamian flagged ship falls to the Bahamas. A single policeman from the Bahamas investigated Rebecca's disappearance. The investigation took only a few hours. The Bahamas refuses to provide the Coriams with the results of its investigation and is concealing the official report from them.  Disney refuses to release information to the family saying that they must obtain the information from the Bahamas which, Disney know, won't cooperate at all.

A sorry state of affairs with these foreign incorporated cruise lines sailing under foreign flags of convenience concealing information from grieving families.  

By the way, Rebecca was employed as a youth counselor for Disney. You'd  think that a corporation touting "family cruises" and promoting special vacations for kids would try to get to the bottom of the disappearance of a youth counselor whose job was to take care of children, as well as being sensitive and transparent with the employee's family. Think again.

Below is a video about how cruise lines cover up disappearances at sea, of both passengers and crew.  The Coriam family is interviewed and so am I.  Ask yourself whether Disney will be transparent with you if your daughter disappears from the Disney Wonder when it sails out of Miami next month.

Do you know what happened to Rebecca? Please contact her family: Web: Rebecca-Coriam.com Email: help@rebecca-coriam.com

 

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.   

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

Drugs & Wild Sex on the Kid Friendly Disney Magic?

Disney Cruise Ship - Crew - Cocaine - SexPeople Magazine in the U.K. is publishing photographs of what it is describing as crew members snorting cocaine in their cabins. The photographs are part of an investigation into drug use aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship after a "whistleblower" reported widespread us of coke by crew members. People Magazine writes:

"Up on deck families were frolicking with Mickey Mouse on a Disney sunshine cruise.

But down below members of their crew were enjoy themselves in a different way – snorting white ­powder in their cabins.

Entertainers who delight young kiddies and their parents, ­restaurant waiters and show ­dancers hoovered up what ­appeared to be cocaine.

And they even used their Disney staff ID cards to chop up lines."  

A Disney crew member also claimed that "wild parties and casual sex were the norm" for the Disney Magic crew. According to the crew-member-turned-informant:

“It’s all very family-friendly. On deck, you have people in Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck outfits Disney Cruise Ship - Drugs - Sexperforming tricks. But downstairs, staff are sniffing coke. So many people are doing it, it’s an open secret. People even do it during their shift. Staff work very long hours and it’s their only release.

We’d go to whorehouses when we were docked.

Or if we were at sea we would have wild parties in the ­cabins. You’d just lock the door and a few people would be sniffing ­almost straight away. Crew would all be sleeping with each other too. Girls never said no when they were high – it was wild."

People Magazine also discussed the  highly controversial case of Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam who vanished from the Disney Wonder under mysterious circumstances. Disney is staying mum about what really happened to young Ms. Coriam.  The "investigation" by a single policeman in the Bahamas, where Disney registered its cruise ships to avoid taxes and strict safety regulations of the U.K. and U.S., is a joke.

The Mirror magazine in the U.K. picked up on the cocaine / sex story and published several additional photographs of crew members snorting blow which you can see here.

Disney Cruise Ship - Drugs - Snow White Snorting Coke?Disney says that it has a strict anti-drug program and it runs sniffer dogs through the crew quarters.

Some readers and many cruise fans may write the story off as sensationalistic.  But my thought is that it's a real insight into the hard partying life of the crew who cruise passengers entrust with their children.

Are Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Snow White high while entertaining your kids?

It's something that cruise passengers don't want to think about. 

 

 

Photo / art credit:

Top, middle: People Magazine U.K. / Mirror U.K. 

Bottom:  Cheezburger

Light Sentence for Cunard Child Predator

A judge in the U.K. has sentenced a notorious child predator who filmed himself sexually abusing children on Cunard cruise ships to jail for four years.

Cunard child supervisor Paul Trotter, age 34, worked as a "play zone supervisor" on the Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary II cruise ships where he sexually abused children. 

Also referred to as a cruise line "au pair," Potter was arrested only after the police in England caught him only while investigating child pornography over the internet. Newspapers in the U.K. are reporting that the police discovered "almost 1,000 indecent images of children and the investigation uncovered abuse stretching back over a decade and spanning the globe."

The prosecuting attorney told the court that it was "clear that some films had been shot covertly on the cruise liners where he had worked."

Paul Trotter - Cunard Child Predator - Cruise ShipTrotter, formerly of Salisbury, but now living in Pontefract, Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual assault of a child, five of taking, five making and one possession of indecent images of children.

According to the Salisbury Journal,  the sentencing judge told Trotter: “It is most disturbing to see you have been employed with children up to now; firstly as an au pair but then working with Cunard shipping line on their cruise ships looking after the young children of passengers . . . When the parents dropped their children off you led them to believe they would be in safe hands and nothing remotely like this would happen to them. Whilst abusing them you filmed them, and filmed them for your own sexual gratification.”

We have written several articles about Trotter and Cunard's handling of the matter.

There is some new information in the recent newspaper coverage:

  • Trotter's victims were as young as seven years (7) old.  This may come to some comfort to parents of toddlers, although it is less than clear whether the police have ruled out that Trotter abused younger victims.
  • Trotter liked to film himself spanking the boys on their bare bottoms or over their clothes, and then watch the video in his cabin for his sexual gratification.
  • Trotter possessed 900 - 1,000 images of children, ranging in seriousness from level 1 to level 5 (this must be scale of pornography in the U.K.) 
  • Trotter intended to open up a nursery after leaving Cunard.

Unfortunately, this is a story that the U.S. media has largely ignored even though the Cunard cruise ships called on U.S. ports such as New York and South Florida and sailed with American families. Cunard has released no information to the U.S. public.  You can read our thoughts here:

Cruise Ship "Prey Zones" - U.S. Media Ignores Widespread Sexual Abuse Of Children On Cunard Cruise Ships 

Although the judge found that Trotter had a "deep obsession" with little boys and presented a danger to the public, he demonstrated leniency in his sentence. An order of four years in jail for 13 admitted victims? What a joke.  One English family member whose child was victimized stated:

“We are extremely disappointed in the sentence given to Paul Trotter. We do not believe this sentence is a strong enough deterrent to paedophiles . This is a man who admitted to police that he was aware of his predilection for abusing young boys. We hope that all organisations who provide care for children will use this experience to take a fresh look at their own policies, tighten up procedure and consider reviewing them with external experts to ensure the very best safeguarding of children. That’s about the only positive that may come out of this nightmare."

Another newspaper quoted the family saying: "Long after this calculating and evil man leaves prison, we face the prospect of our children coming to understand fully what happened to them and the possible long-term impact of the abuse."

Cruise Child Predator - Did Paul Trotter Molest More Than 13 Children on Cunard Cruise Ships?

The Sun newspaper in London contains some new and troubling information about who it is describing as the the "vile" kids’ activity supervisor on Cunard luxury cruise liners. 

Prior newspaper accounts have avoided stating exactly when Trotter began working for Cunard and when he ended his employment.  It would be a simple matter for Cunard to explain his exact dates of employment and include information explaining when he worked on Cunard's three cruise ships, the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.  Such information may provide some peace of mind for concerned parents.

But instead there is no such information publicly available.

The Sun's article Cruise Ship Pervert’s Sex Assaults on Kids indicates that Trotter worked on Cunard cruise ships for seven (7) years and supervised children over the course of two hundred and ninety-five (295) cruises. Prior accounts suggest he worked for 4 to 5 years. 

It further states that he admitted to 24 sexual offenses involving "involving victims aged between seven and 13 — mostly boys."  He filmed himself abusing the child and was also caught with child pornography he down loaded from the internet.  The specific offenses are as follows: 

Cunard Child Supervisor - Paul TrotterHe admitted 12 counts of sexual assaulting a child under the age of 13, one count of sexual activity with a child under the age of 13, five counts of taking indecent images of a child, five of making indecent images of a child and one of possessing indecent images of a child.

Many families who cruised with Cunard are understandably concerned about whether Trotter abused other children. One person who left a comment on the Sun article:

"My son was in the care of this sick pervert on several occasions, NSPCC refered my complaint back to Cunard and violated confidentiality. I want to find out what were the ages of victims, I suspect toddlers. Trust me, there may be hundreds of victims, he was the supervisor of childrens programs on all 3 Cunard ships."  

Read our other articles about Mr. Trotter here

Cruise Ship "Prey Zones" - U.S. Media Ignores Widespread Sexual Abuse Of Children On Cunard Cruise Ships

Yesterday, we reported on the case of Cunard cruise youth supervisor Paul Trotter who was arrested in February after police in England were tipped off that his home computer contained indecent images of children. When the police seized his computer, they realized that Trotter had filmed himself sexually abusing the children on the cruise ships.

We reported on the story after reading a police statement which indicated that the abuse occurred in and/or around the children's "play zone area."  Many cruises lines have lax policies and procedures and permit adult crew members to be alone with children and take them into the bathrooms in the children's clubs.

Paul Trotter - Cunard - Sexual Abuse of Children The police had the difficult task of identifying the victims, and then faced the unpleasant task of informing the parents that their children were molested by the youth counselor whom they entrusted with their children's safety during a family cruise.  

I posted an article about this disgusting set of circumstances early yesterday morning. There were already two articles posted in England.  I anticipated that the U.S. press would soon follow.  After all, Cunard is owned by Miami-based Carnival and many thousands of U.S. families have sailed aboard Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria cruise ships.

The police found evidence that Trotter abused at least 13 children.  But he worked for Cunard for many years, some articles say 4 years others say 5 years.  Although one victim is too many and 13 victims is a lot, do you think that is all of the victims?  Trotter enjoyed the luxury of waiting for his victims in the "play zone" over the course of hundreds and hundreds of cruises where unsuspecting families dropped their kids off to be watched by him.  

We know from the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky case and the failures of the Catholic Church for decades, that sexual predators who target kids cannot be cured. They will abuse children for decades.  First there's one victim, then 2 or 3, then a dozen, and then the public comes to the uneasy realization that there must be many more but there will never be a definitive list. Victims, particularly child victims, are afraid to tell their parents what happened and try to suppress the trauma out of shame or confusion.  

Were U.S. children victimized by Trotter in the children's "play zones" of the three Cunard ships?  Only the most naive person would think not.  

Is Trotter the only child predator who worked for Cunard or Carnival?  Only the most naive person would think so. 

The "play zones" were Trotter's "prey zones" where he would target his victim, groom the child, and then engage in his depravity while videotaping the crime - probably in a bathroom.      

At the end of the day yesterday, there were over a hundred articles about Mr. Trotter all showing his creepy looking mug shot. All of the articles were in the U.K. and in other European countries.

Not a single U.S. newspaper or television / cable news covered the shocking news.  Only this blog, Cruise Law News.

I emailed the articles to news reporters, tweeted about the crimes and challenged the local newspaper and bloggers who cover cruise news to address the issue. Everyone remained silent.  Their journalistic ethics of honestly reporting on an important story fell short of their financial self-interest of not losing cruise sales or not embarrassing Cunard or Carnival or CEO Micky Arison.  As I write this follow up article this Saturday morning, the U.S. media remains silent. 

Newspapers like the Miami Herald and USA Today are deep in the cruise lines' pockets.  The cruise lines advertise heavily in the larger newspapers, and the "journalists" simply look the other way when stories appear that may embarrass their cruise lines friends.  I have warned for years about this problem. Take a moment and read Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships or Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place to Sexually Abuse Children.

Newspapers like the Miami Herald and USA Today should be ashamed.  They do the public a terrible disservice not warning parents of the dangers posed to children on cruise ships. They are happy to write puff pieces for Carnival and Cunard but avert their eyes when things go terribly wrong.  They are complicit with the Carnivals and Cunards who don't protect the children and then choose their marketing reputation over the children's welfare. 

 

 

Who's reporting on the Cunard / Paul Trotter story as of April 21, 2012:

U.S.A:  

Cruise Law News

U.K / Ireland:

BBC News Telegraph Mail Online The Sun Daily Echo Lancashire Evening Post Pontefract and Castleford Express ITV News The Independent Swindon Advertiser Belfast Telegraph Bourne Local Huffington Post UK MSNBC News UK Isle of Man Today and a hundred others in England.


Update of U.S. Media reporting on Cunard / Paul Trotter:

Old Salt Blog - April 21, 2012

Cruise Radio - April 22, 2012

South Florida Business Journal - April 23, 2012

Sun Sentinel - April 24, 2012

Cruise Critic - April 24, 2012

Cunard Child Supervisor Admits Sexually Abusing 13 Boys During Cruises

Newspapers in the U.K. are reporting that a former child supervisor who worked on Cunard cruise ships admitted to the police that he sexually abused children on cruise ships.

Two months ago we reported on the arrest of Paul Trotter, who worked on Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria cruise ships. Police arrested him on allegations that he sexually assaulted a minor on a Cunard cruise ship.  Child predators of course don't abuse just one victim.  Our blog in February was entitled "Did Cunard Child Supervisor Molest Other Children During Cruises?"

Well now we know that he has admitted to sexually abusing at least thirteen (13) children between Paul Trotter - Cunard Child Sexual PredatorNovember 2007 and August 2011.  

According to the Daily Echo newspaper in the U.K., Trotter was also in possession of graphic film of the children he abused on the cruise ships. A police spokesperson said:

''The contents of his computer were examined and revealed that he had filmed himself abusing children in his care.

Many of these films were made on board three cruise ships operated by Cunard, where Trotter was employed in the children's play zone area."

Here's the account from the Independent newspaper in London:

"A former Cunard cruise ship worker has admitted carrying out sex attacks on 13 boys while working as a supervisor for a children's activity area.

Paul Trotter, 34, pleaded guilty to a string of sexual assaults and taking, making and possessing indecent images of children, most of whom were under the age of 13 at the time.

The supervisor made films of himself abusing the children in his care on board three cruise ships, operated by Cunard. He also possessed other indecent images of children he had obtained online.

In a statement Cunard, part of the Carnival Corporation group and owners of the Costa Concordia which ran aground earlier this year, said it was "deeply shocked" by Trotter's 'appalling crimes'.

It added he had avoided detection despite a number of safeguards, including having had his criminal record checked.

Trotter, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, appeared at Swindon Crown Court, dressed in a suit and purple tie.

He admitted 12 counts of sexual assaulting a child under the age of 13, one count of sexual activity with a child under the age of 13, five counts of taking indecent images of a child, five of making indecent images of a child and one of possessing indecent images of a child.

The offences were committed from November 2007 to August 2011 when he arrested by Wiltshire Police's child abuse investigation unit.

Judge Douglas Field told Trotter, who was living in Wiltshire at the time of his arrest, he would be held in custody to return before the same court on May 11 for sentencing.

He also ordered him to sign the sexual offences register before he was taken back to prison."

The revelation of a prolific cruise ship child sexual predator comes at a bad time for Carnival (which owns Cunard) and the cruise industry in general.  First, the Costa Concordia capsized leaving 32 dead. Earlier this week Carnival was under siege for the outrageous conduct of a Princess cruise ship which ignored the distress pleas from a disabled fishing boat.  Two young men (ages 16 and 24) died. Carnival also owns Princess and Costa cruise lines.  

Think sexual abuse of children on cruises is rare?  Read our articles about the danger here.

 

Sources:

Independent newspaper

Swindon Advertiser

Read our first article about Paul Trotter here.

A Parent's Worst Nightmare - Disappearance Of Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the disappearance of youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  

BBC News published an article which summed up the problems caused when a cruise line like Disney chooses to fly a flag of convenience in a country like the Bahamas.  You can read the article here

A press release with video is here.

Our last article about Rebecca's disappearance is here.

Watch a dateline video from Australia about Rebecca's disappearance below:   

   

 

If you have information about Rebecca's disappearance, please contact us and / or the Coriam family using the contact information below.  We are interested in hearing from former employees of Disney Cruise Lines, particularly youth counselors who used to work aboard the Disney Wonder

Jim Walker:

Telephone:  305 995 5300

Toll Free:  800 256 1518

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Coriam family:

Telephone: 011 44 774 735 9968

Email:  help@rebecce-coriam.com 

What Happened to Disney Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship One Year Ago?

The following is a copy of a press release issued today regarding the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam:

What Happened to Rebecca

One year ago tomorrow, twenty-four year old Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder. Rebecca worked aboard the Wonder as a youth counselor.

She was responsible for taking care of the children aboard the cruise ship. Rebecca was last seen just before dawn on March 22, 2011, and then she did not report to work at 9.00 AM.  Disney Cruise Line listed Rebecca as "missing at sea."

A police officer in the Bahamas is responsible for the investigation of Rebecca's disappearance because Disney Cruise Line registered its cruise ship in that country.

Rebecca Coriam - Missing - Disney Cruise LineRebecca's family, Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester, England, have received little information from either Disney or the Bahamas regarding what happened to Rebecca in the early morning hours of March 22, 2011.  It has been one year since Rebecca has been lost.  The family has more questions than answers at this point.

Rebecca's Parents Retain Miami Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker to Help Find Answers

To help find information about what happened to their daughter, the Coriam family retained maritime lawyer Jim Walker of the Miami-based law firm of Walker & O'Neill.  Mr. Walker is an internationally know lawyer whose practice focuses on cruise ship matters, including disappearances of passengers and crew members and crimes on the high seas.  

"In this day and age," Mr. Walker commented, "it is inconceivable that anyone would vanish from a cruise ship - particularly a ship catering to families and children -  without the circumstances being recorded by closed circuit television cameras." 

Rebecca's disappearance has received attention in the United Kingdom.  BBC covered the story and the Guardian newspaper, among many others, published an article "Rebecca Coriam - Lost at Sea." 

Rebecca's case has been discussed in the House of Commons in England. Her MP, Stephen Mosley, says Disney was “ "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."  He also stated “it’s appalling” that only one policeman from the Bahamas – “an authority internationally recognized as almost toothless” – was called to investigate. He said “flag of convenience” countries such as the Bahamas – as they’re called in the shipping world – shouldn’t be left to conduct these kinds of investigations.

Countries as far away as Australia have demonstrated interest into what happened to Rebecca. Australia's "Dateline" recently aired a special program, "Lost at Sea," which you can watch here

Coming to America 

The United States media, so far, has demonstrated little interest in the case, although Disney and its cruise line, the Magical Cruise Company, are based in the U.S.   

The Coriam family will be traveling to the U.S. seeking information about their daughter.  If you have information about Rebecca or if you are interested in interviewing them or discussing the matter with their counsel, Jim Walker, please use the contact information below.

Jim Walker: 

Telephone:  305 995 5300

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Web:  Cruise Law News

Coriam family:

Telephone:  011 44 774 735 9968

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com

Web:  Rebecca Coriam

 

March 22, 2012 Update:  BBC News: "Rebecca Coriam: 'Bad Dream' For Missing Girl's Parent"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Cruise Ships a Perfect Place to Commit Crimes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CBS: Woman Speaks Out About Cruise Ship Crime

BBC: Cruise Passengers 'Not Protected From Serious Crime'

Guardian: Rebecca Coriam - Lost at Sea

ABC (US): Cruise Cover-Up?

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

 

Cunard Child Supervisor Arrested for Sexually Molesting Child During Cruise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Several newspapers in California are reporting that the FBI arrested a crew member aboard Celebrity Cruises' Constellation on child-pornography charges after the cruise ship arrived at the Port of San Diego. 

According to the Union Tribune newspaper in San Diego, Amado Nicholas Hernandez, age 31, was employed by Celebrity Cruises as an audiovisual manager and provided onboard guest-entertainment services. 

Amado Hernandez - Cruise - Child PornographyHernandez was arrested after he apparently abandoned his computer which was subsequently purchased at an estate sale.  The computer reportedly contained 450 photographs and about 250 video files of child pornography portraying a total of 44 different victims.  The computer contained information which permitted the FBI to trace the pornography back to the crew member. 

The criminal complaint filed against Hernandez alleged that upcoming cruises included several stops in Mexico.  Hernandez, in documented online chats, reportedly had bragged that he had bought young boys for sex in Mexico and “almost offed one,” the criminal complaint alleges.

The issue of child predators and crew members with child pornography on cruise ships is something we have written about frequently.  It's not an isolated problem: 

Nabbed at Pier 21 - Another Crew Member Busted with Child Porn in Halifax

Another Carnival Crew Member Busted for Child Porn

Costa Crew Member Caught With Child Pornography 

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Another Crew Member Arrested for Child Pornography 

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

 

Photo Credit:    roadiejobs.com

Judge Bars Alleged Sexual Predator From Cruise

A judge in Illinois rejected a request by a man accused of being a sexual predator to go on a cruise with his wife. 

John Martynus - Cruise   John K. Martynus, age 39, of Plainfield, Illinois, who counsels troubled children and works as a high school sports coach and referee, was arrested last week for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual tryst with a 13-year-old girl.  Martynus reportedly had just finished refereeing a basketball game and drove to a fast food restaurant, where he contacted who he thought was a 13 year old girl (actually an undercover officer) via text messages and asked to meet to have sex. 

After he was arrested, Martynus was released on bond on the condition that he not leave the U.S. or have contact with children.  Martynus and his wife had previously booked a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise to celebrate his wife's birthday.  His defense lawyer asked the judge if Martynus could go on the cruise.  The state prosecution objected citing the order that Martynus must stay away from children. “There’s no way, when you’re on a cruise, to avoid that contact,” the state prosecutor is quoted as saying. 

Martynus' defense lawyer, unfamiliar with cruises, told the judge: “There might not even be children on the cruise. It’s not a Disney cruise, it’s a Norwegian Cruise.” 

The judge denied the request, but said he might reconsider if Martynus could present evidence that the cruise would be adults-only.

John K. Martynus - CruiseThis situation illustrates a problem that most families do not consider, namely that there are sexual predators on cruises.  None of the cruise lines conduct a background check on cruise passengers, and there is no law prohibiting sexual predators, accused or convicted, from cruising.  That's why you have situations where a sexual predator can book a cruise for the express purpose of molesting a child, a situation which happened earlier this year on a Royal Caribbean cruise -Sexual Predator Abuses 6 Year Old Aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

This case is unique because the Judge entered an order forbidding the potential cruise passenger from leaving the U.S. or being around kids and would not budge when asked to modify his order. But once Martynus is tried and either convicted and serves a short jail sentence or he is acquited, he will be free to go on as many cruise as he likes - perhaps wearing his Charlie Brown shirt on cruise ships with children?           

Should sexual predators (accused or convicted) be permitted to cruise?  Should cruise lines perform background checks on passengers?  Should cruise lines warn passengers when a sexual predator is aboard the cruise ship? 

If you have an opinion of these issues, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credits: 

Top photo    Sun-Times Media Wire (via myfoxchicago.com)

Bottom photo John Martynus Facebook page

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!

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

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

The Orlando Sentinel reports today that a thirty year old Carnival crew member will be arraigned this week on allegations that he raped a 14 year old passenger aboard a Carnival's cruise ship.   

Hery Krispiyanto, age 30, from Klitren, Yogykarta (Indonesia) worked aboard Carnival's Freedom as a bartender.  A photograph from his Friendster page is below.

Hery Krispiyanto - Carnival Crew Member - Rape Allegations The newspaper reports that the 14-year-old girl was vacationing with her parents during the Carnival cruise which left Fort Lauderdale in April 2009.  During the cruise, the minor and her parents became acquainted with Krispiyanto.  When the minor was alone on the upper deck of the ship one night, Krispiyanto walked up behind her, grabbed her arm and pulled her into a nearby employee-only room and closed the door, court records indicate.  

Krispiyanto began to touch the minor inappropriately, and she repeatedly told him to stop. The minor said she tried to fight him, but Krispiyanto raped her, according to the criminal complaint lodged against the crew member.

The minor reported the incident to her mother in August, and it was then reported to the FBI.  A FBI agent interviewed Krispiyanto in April of this year and arrested him earlier this month.   

According to court records, when an FBI agent questioned Krispiyanto in April, he first denied the incident. But after a polygraph exam indicated Krispiyanto was being deceptive, he confessed to having sex with the minor in a pantry area on the cruise ship.  Krispiyanto is being held at the Hery Krispiyanto - Carnival Cruise - Rape Allegations Seminole County Jail.

June 1 Update:

The arrest of the Carnival crew member is now receiving wide media coverage. The Palm Beach Post contains a story today "Carnival Cruise Ship Bartender Accused of Raping Girl, 14, During Cruise With Her Parents."  The Post's article contains what appears to be a mug shot of  Krispiyanto (right),

We have written many articles about the problem of crew members preying on children on 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?

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

 

Credits:

Photograph top       Hery Krispiyanto's Friendster page

Photograph bottom    Seminole Co. Sheriff's Office (via Palm Beach Post)

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)

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. 

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

Two stories hit the internet this weekend regarding children being raped on cruise ships.

12 year Old Raped On Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

The first article involves allegations that an adult passenger drugged and raped a 12 year old girl cruise ship rape - childrenwho was sailing on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas.  The complaint alleges that the adult met the child at a "teens-only" event sponsored by the cruise line. The information is contained in a Miami maritime lawyer's blog:

"Royal Caribbean Cruise Line advertises and markets that it has programs and caters to pre-teens and teens. In fact, the cruise line advertises on its website that it provides as 'adventure ocean youth facilities including teen only areas” and advertises and represents that 'our 12-14 and 15-17' teen groups give them the freedom to come and go as they please for sports, themed parties, movie nights, and more. Teens can also meet up and chill-out in the laid back Living Room lounge, or cut loose at Fuel, the teen only night club.

Royal Caribbean also markets, advertises and represents that 'parents don’t have to worry about you hanging out there, because every member of our team staff holds a college degree and education, recreation or a related field and has experience working with youth ages 3-17.' Their advertisement also states that this program is 'available on all ships.'

However, on this particular cruise, despite its representations, Royal Caribbean allowed an adult man to attend a teen-only event. In turn, the adult man then seduced our client, a minor child, 12 years-of-age at the time of this incident, drugged her, and raped her."

cruise sexual assaultThese type of cases are troubling because the public does not realize that there is a problem with sexual predators on cruises (both crew and passengers).  To make matters worse, the cruise lines tell the parents not to worry about their kids because the cruise line will keep them safe which is not true.  

We have handled and are currently handling cases where children from age 3 to 17 have been raped or molested after being entrusted to the cruise lines' "kid activity centers" or "teen camps."  Some of the parents of the victimized children were cruise fanatics before their lives were forever changed by the crime committed against their children.  

Juvenile Sexually Assaulted on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun

The second  story involves the alleged sexual assault of a juvenile on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun. The article is entitled "Sex Claims Clouds Cruise." Cruise Law News was the first to report the incident in the U.S. in an article dated October 10, 2009. I also tweeted about the incident on Twitter. 

Then silence.

Cruise Community's Indifference to Shipboard Crimes Involving Children?

cruise sexual assaultNo U.S. newspaper covered the stories.  No one in the world of Twitter re-tweeted the stories.  The cruise line did not even bother to issue a press statement about the sexual assault of a minor on the P & O cruise. No calm and reassuring statement via YouTube by cruise line CEO Ann Sherry, who I have praised in the past.  

The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), whose Twitter name is humorously @CruiseFacts didn't even bother to  issue its usual crime-is-rare denials. Not a single one of the 16,000 travel agents, who are an integral part of CLIA, took a moment to inquire into the stories. 

What's more disturbing is that no one in the cruise community bothered to address these disturbing stories.  The editors of the popular CruiseMates or CruiseCritic online cruise communities couldn't find space on their blogs to mention the assault of a minor during a cruise. There are hundreds of cruise fanatics who tweet and post comments incessantly about the most trivial of cruise "issues."

But not a single mention of a minor being raped during a cruise.  

Frivolous Thoughts From a Frivolous Industry?

Instead, the cruise fanatics were obsessed with the "issue" of an Italian couple filing suit because the cruise line did not tell them that they booked a gay cruise.  Like, who cares?  Well the cruise community does.  They were so fired up about the two homophobic cruisers that USA Today's cruise community blog @CruiseLog recorded, as of the writing of this blog, 757 comments on the story.  @CruiseLog's story about some nuts suing over a gay cruise was the fifth most read story at USA Today, ahead of the story about President on Obama trip to New Orleans! 

But not a single mention of a child raped during a cruise

children - rape on cruise ships The cruise fans who blog and twitter undoubtedly use the same search words in their Goggle readers as I do or have similar RSS feeds.  They obviously see the same stories popping up about sexual assault of children on cruise ships, or the robbery of eleven cruise passengers last Sunday at a tourist attraction in the middle of Nassau, as I did. 

But they choose to ignore these type of unpleasant stories.  Is it because they sold out to the cruise lines who pay money for banners and ads on their web sites?  Or they don't want to disrupt their give-us-a-free-cruise-and-we-will-write-a nice-review arrangement? Or because they simply don't want to offend their friends in the cruise industry who invite them to the behind-the-scene parties and events?   

Which Cruise Line has the Best Steakhouse???

So we have cruise cheerleaders like @CruiseMates, @CruiseCritic and the @CruiseWhatevers  tweeting and blogging incessantly about breaking "stories," like just how big the Oasis of the Seas is!!!  Wow!!! 

I realize that those cruise fans reading this blog have more important issues to consider. Check out the debate on USA Today's cruise blog now: Which cruise line has the best steakhouse? We're debating the topic today!!  48 comments and counting!

Now that's something to blog about!

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

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

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

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

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

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

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