Last week I ran across an interesting blog article by a thirty-three year old woman who sailed aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship out of Tampa with her long time boyfriend. Around 2:00 AM one night, she craved a cigarette and proceeded to an upper deck to smoke and look at the stars.
She encountered a naked man masturbating. He stalked her. She ran from the deck terrified. She immediately told crew members involved in cleaning a lower deck what happened. She then proceeded to the deck four service desk and made an official report of what happened.
The article is about the indifferent, casual and almost bemused response of the cruise line to her ordeal. The comments to her frightening personal experience are revealing. Some comments seem to be from crew members accusing her of being hysterical and essentially telling her to "get over it."
Indecent exposure and public masturbation are crimes in virtually all U.S. states. But in most situations state law does not apply to foreign flagged cruise ships in international waters. Do the laws of foreign countries like Liberia and the Bahamas prohibit such conduct? Did the cruise line report the crime to the flag state? I don’t know but I doubt it. I’m sure no police detective from Africa or a small Caribbean island appeared to investigate.
The U.S. federal government theoretically has jurisdiction over federal crimes at sea where the victim is an American and a federal law was broken. But I don’t think public masturbation or indecent exposure are federal crimes. Did the cruise line report the incident to the FBI? Probably not, but even if it did, I am sure that the FBI declined to appear either.
Florida is the only state in the U.S. which has laws extending jurisdiction to local law enforcement to prosecute crimes which occur on cruise ships. A state police officer or sheriff’s detective from Florida could make an arrest once the cruise ship returned to port in Tampa. But this assumes that the cruise line notified the local law enforcement officials and further assumes the cruise line saved the CCTV surveillance images of the naked man and turned the evidence over to the police.
In my experience, the chances of this cruise line taking such steps are between slim and none.
There will be no prosecution of this cruise pervert. The video images of the naked man on deck and the cruise ship guest running down the stairs in terror will never see the light of day. No mug shots depicting the pervert will ever make it onto the internet. No one from the Miami offices of the cruise line will reach out to the victim with an apology, or words of assurance, or an offer of assistance.
Photo Credit: Daily Mail