The Juneau Empire reports that a 40-year-old cruise ship worker from Honduras.was caught sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman, also a crew member, from Ottawa, Canada.
On July 12th at 2:30 A.M., the woman reportedly had "left the crew bar and was walking back to her room alone when a man she didn’t know grabbed her from behind. He covered her mouth, groped her breast and behind, and attempted to force himself on her . . . "
Meanwhile, a comedian on the cruise ship stepped out of his cabin to search for Ibuprofen for an ear ache when he "heard a woman scream behind a door that led to the crew members’ stairwell. When he opened the door, he saw a man holding one hand over a woman’s mouth and his other hand across her waist."
The newspaper says that the comedian startled the assailant who was later identified as Eduar Klay Moran Bonilla.
The arrest of a foreign (i.e., non-U.S.national) attacking another foreign crew member is a relatively rare event in the U.S. If the incident occurred in international waters, U.S. local police would not have jurisdiction. The FBI and Department of Justice would have jurisdiction only if either the assailant or the victim were a U.S. citizen. Most of the time there is no arrest in these type of incidents. The offending crew member is simply flown home and the matter is swept under the rug. Here the Alaska state troopers had jurisdiction because the ship was in state territorial waters at the time of the crime.
Over a decade ago, we obtained through a court order confidential internal documents from Royal Caribbean / Celebrity where they studied the problem of sexual assaults in their fleet. Outside experts concluded that most crew members know if they are caught, the worst that can happen is that they will be flown home. The experts concluded that only when there is a real deterrent like being arrested and imprisoned will the cycle of sexual violence on the ships be reduced. The experts recommended improvements in ship security and human resource policies which the cruise lines ignored.
We are currently representing a young crew member who was sexually assaulted on an Oceania cruise ship by a Honduran crew member.
Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Photo Credit: Michael Penn | Juneau Empire