Groping on the High Seas? John Travolta - Fabian Zanzi Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Over, Finally

Fabian Zanzi - Royal CaribbeanA year ago. Cruise Law News was the first one in the U.S. to report that a Royal Caribbean crew member, Fabian Zanzi, claimed that movie celebrity John Travolta sexually harassed and assaulted him during a cruise.  We had first heard of the alleged incident several years ago from a crew member client who worked on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship. 

We were told that a Royal Caribbean crew member claimed that Travolta came-on-to-him during a cruise on the Enchantment in 2009.  

Zanzi's lawsuit claims that after he served Travolta room service, Travolta disrobed, "forcibly embracing" Zanzi while naked, and engaged in "nonconsensual, inappropriate, extreme and outrageous" contact. 

Zanzi reported the incident to his supervisors at the cruise line. Royal Caribbean then punished Zanzi and kept him confined to his cabin. Travolta ended his cruise early and took a jet back to the U.S.    

Travolta denied everything of course. 

Travolta's lawyers responded to Zanzi's lawsuit by moving to dismiss it and to send the case to arbitration. This way Travolta could avoid the publicity of a jury trial. Arbitration usually results in lower damages awarded to the aggrieved party. This is how cruise lines respond to lawsuits by injured crew members.

A federal court judge recently denied Travolta'a motion to arbitrate the case. You can read the well reasoned opinion here. This means that the case would head toward a jury trial.

But yesterday, the Hollywood news reporters said that Zanzi's lawsuit had been "dropped," after the John Travolta - Fabian Zanzi - Cruise Shipparties had stipulated to a dismissal.  Sounds to me like Travolta paid a settlement, after losing his arbitration motion, in order to avoid the prospect of all of his dirty laundry being aired out before a jury in Los Angeles. The parties probably agreed to keep the settlement terms secret.  A good move by Travolta to put this spectacle to bed.

Meanwhile, Zanzi is proceeding with his claim against Royal Caribbean that it falsely imprisoned him in retaliation for reporting the alleged sexual harassment.

The Zanzi - Royal Caribbean false imprisonment claim is in arbitration, so there will be no jury trial for the Hollywood reporters to attend. My prediction is that eventually the cruise line will agree to a settlement, subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Then the case will end like it began, with everyone trying to keep what happens on cruise ships secret. 

 

Photo credit - John Travolta - WENN

Royal Caribbean Crewmember Sues John Travolta For Sexual Harassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 May 10, 2912 Update:

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

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

May 11, 2012 Update:

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

May 14, 2012 Update:

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

 

 

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

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

Last night, a member of the one of the leading online cruise communities - CruiseCritic - contacted me about a cruise line passenger who had been harassed and battered by a cabin attendant in Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship - Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault her cabin.  This was far from a rape, but it certainly sounds like something other than a "cultural misunderstanding."

Some of the CruiseCritic members supported the passenger and made some generally okay suggestions like call the cruise line and tell them what happened. But it was obvious that everyone online was basically just shooting in the dark.  Unfortunately, some of the members mocked her story.

Now a little background information may be in order.

No Pre-Employment Screening and the Cruise Lines Sweep Bad Conduct Under the Rug  

I have represented over 60 women and children raped or sexually molested on cruise ships over the past ten years. I have also represented six women who have appeared before Congress during hearings on crimes and unsafe conditions on cruise ships.  I am not talking about "harassment" but conduct which is criminal in nature and should land the perpetrator in jail for a long time.  When we sue the cruise line and obtain the cruise line perpetrator's employment files and conduct an investigation, we often find that there is virtually no pre-employment investigation before hiring crew members. Plus, we discover that after joining the cruise line, some of the crew members engage in what the cruise lines characterize as "minor" problems such as sexual comments or "inappropriate touching" by the crew member.  These early warning signs are sometimes ignored or swept under the rug. 

Profile of the Who, When and Where a Cruise Line Predator Strikes

In our experience, the crew member most likely to harass or assault a passenger is a male cabin attendant in his late 20's or early 30's.  And the cruise line where you are most likely to be harassed or assaulted?  Without question, in our experience, Royal Caribbean.  By far.  And the most likely time to be "hit upon?"  The last night of the cruise.  

So it was disturbing to hear that that the incident involving the CruiseCritic passenger involved - you guessed it - a cabin attendant on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on the last night of the cruise.  Here is a portion of the passenger's account posted on CruiseCritic:

The Passenger's Account - Still Coming to Grips with What Happened

"My room steward came up behind my chair on our balcony and proceeded to put his hands on my shoulders, that's ok but when he ran them down the front of me, well that was not ok. I tried to not let it upset me, but I am still really bothered by this. We were 2 women traveling alone. I am in my late forties and very comfortable traveling solo. Unfortunately this really made me start to think, How safe is it really? I didn't want to make a complaint because it was our last night on the cruise . . . I know i will probably get the people telling me to get over it and that it is no big deal, and that is how I tried to look at it, But how safe is it for other women traveling alone with that steward . . .

Royal Caribbean - Sexual Assault - Cabin AattendantsHe was a big man and i was a little unnerved by his size. I just stopped his hands and didn't say anything. I know I am stupid for not reporting right away, but i just wasn't sure what to do. I had another incident occur on a Royal ship years ago with my then 11 year old son, where a fellow passenger hauled off and cold cocked him while he was at the kids club. The security really didn't do much about it, told his parents and told them to stay close to their son for the trip, but he was still allowed in the kids club and left unsupervised on the ship. Needless to say my son had a black eye throughout our vacation and the fact that security just didn't make sure that this other kid was allowed where my son was, was even more upsetting. Maybe that is why I didn't report him at the time for fear of security not really doing much . . ." 

This Is a Crime on Miami Beach - But Business As Usual on Cruise Ships  

If this happened in a club at South Beach, the bouncers would haul Mr. "Happy-Hands" outside and he would find himself face down on the sidewalk only to be hand-cuffed and hauled off in a squad car and end up being finger printed at the cop shop on Washington Avenue.  But on a cruise ship, its another matter. You are in the middle of the ocean with no police within a thousand miles.  A crew member is between you and your cabin door.  The balcony is behind you.  Women have disappeared on cruise ships.

In September 2007, one of our clients was featured in a Congressional hearing. Her Royal Caribbean cabin attendant was very attentive, too attentive.  This led to increasing aggressive behavior of "inappropriate talk" - to casual touching - to offers of champagne - to using his key card to enter her cabin at night while she slept in her bed - to raping her.

Royal Caribbean Knows They Have a Problem . . .

In another one of our court cases, we obtained an excel spreadsheet from Royal Caribbean (only after the Court threatened Royal Caribbean with a fine of $1,000 a day if it did not comply) listing the number of incidents of sexual assault and harassment on its cruise ships for a period a little longer than two and one-half years.  I know the data was incomplete, but it indicated that over 250 women were sexually harassed, assaulted or battered.  This reflects a real problem throughout the Royal Caribbean fleet.  A large number of the incidents occurred in the passenger cabins.  

. . . But Royal Caribbean Keeps the Passengers in the Dark

It is therefore additionally disturbing at this late date to think that a woman on a Royal Caribbean ship could be sexually harassed and battered (yes - a non-consensual, offensive touching is a criminal offense!) and yet the cruise line would have no published protocols to explain to the guest what to do and she would have to resort to a public plea for assistance.  It is equally discouraging that a large and well established cruise community like, CruiseCritic, would not have an online resource for its members to refer to to understand what steps they should take.    

Cruise Ship Crime Recently, a bill was introduced before Congress (HR 3360) which will require cruise lines to provide contact information for assault crisis centers. But the Senate has not voted on the bill yet.  As matters now stand, cruise lines continue to keep the passengers in the dark regarding what to so or who to contact in circumstances like this.

A Few Suggestions

So here are some suggestions when you are sexually harassed or, as some people understate, "inappropriately touched" on a Royal Caribbean cruise:

Head directly to the Purser's Desk.  Request to see the Security Officer, the Head Purser, the Staff Captain, and the Hotel Director.  Ask for their names and write them down.  Give your name, cabin number, name of the crew member if known, and a short statement of what happened.  Request that the cabin attendant be removed from his responsibility for your cabin. Demand that the cabin attendant's key card be taken away from him. Before you return the statement, ask for a copy.  Request the full name and employee number of the crew member. Ask for the email and telephone of the head of security for Royal Caribbean in its corporate headquarters and one of cruise line's in-house lawyers in Miami.  Ask for a telephone number or email to contact these individuals in Miami before you leave the cruise ship. 

Who to Contact After You Leave the Cruise Ship

If you leave the ship without making a complaint (about 40% of women are too upset, traumatized, or disoriented to report the incident on the cruise ship so don't beat yourself up) don't waste your time calling the cruise line.  You will be directed to a low level representative in the customer care department - the same people who take calls regarding lost luggage, or handle silly complaints about bad food or poor service.  You will be ignored or they will eventually call you back and offer you a 25% discount on your next cruise. You will feel worse after dealing with these knuckleheads.  You need to document what happened and demand that action be taken by the top security and executive leaders.  

Empower yourself!  Take control of the situation.

Send a letter to the President (Adam Goldstein) and CEO (Richard Fain) of Royal Caribbean at 1050 South Caribbean Way, Miami FL and send an email copy to the head of Royal Caribbean's security department Gary Bald (GBald@rccl.com) and one of the top lawyers at Royal Caribbean such as Tony Faso (TFaso@rccl.com).  Don't let them interrogate you without a lawyer being present.  Ask them to notify law enforcement and provide you with the telephone number and address of the FBI. Look up the FBI office closest to you and call and write them a letter.  

Keep your letter or email to the executives and the lawyer short and to the point.  And make certain that you write: "Submitted without prejudice.  Not to be used against me in a civil or criminal proceeding."

Royal Caribbean Cruises - Sexual Harassment and Sexual AssaultFollow up in writing and by email.  Don't let it drop until you are satisfied. 

Royal Caribbean claims that it has a "zero tolerance" program against sexual harassment.  The crew members are instructed never to touch a passenger.  This particular crew member and his wandering hands should be terminated.  Otherwise, he will become emboldened and his conduct will become more aggressive.   

Think of the Next Passenger Who Will Climb Aboard the Same Cruise Ship and Meet Your Cabin Attendant  

Remember - the male cabin attendant who sexually harasses you and touches you "inappropriately" is the one most likely to use his pass key and enter a woman's cabin at night.

Think of the next passenger who may be traveling alone on the next Royal Caribbean cruise or the child left alone in her parent's cabin when this cabin attendant enters under the guise of cleaning the cabin or making the bed.   

If the incident involves a rape, then call the Purser's desk and ask for the Security Officer to come immediately to your cabin.  Ask for medical treatment and request the Security Officer to lock and seal your cabin.  Ask for a telephone number for the FBI and a national rape crisis center such as the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)