Disney Cruises Sexual Asssault

I have found that whenever I write about a crew member sexually assaulting a passenger, a certain number of the co-employees instinctively defend the crew member, even when the victim involves a child. 

On Christmas Eve, a local Miami news station reported that a 31 year old Disney crew member was arrested for allegedly sexually molesting an 11 year old girl on the Disney Magic cruise ship which sailed from Miami.

We posted the article on our Facebook page. Cruise passengers who regularly follow our page did not express surprise (this is not the first time this has occurred on a Disney cruise). Many readers expressed their disgust with the news; however, a number of people (mostly crew members) accused the little girl and her family of perpetuating a fraud on the Disney crew member.

The fact that the Disney crew member reportedly confessed to molesting the little girl (according to the news station) did not dissuade the crew member supporters from disparaging the child and her family.

" Working with him i kno (sic) he would never do something like that. Thats a f**king lie. Poor innocent guy getting locked up for sh*t," commented a current crew member on our Facebook page." 

Other comments by people identifying themselves as current or past crew members were equally accusatory of the child and blindly supportive of the Disney employee:

"Was my room mate I don’t believe this for one second . . . I’ve worked with him too . . . I can’t believe this  . . . No chance that he would do this, he’s been put in an awkward situation by a guest and now paying for it! . . . Man he was my helper sometimes, he wouldn’t do this, disgusting guests! . . .   This is a Hugh (sic)  lie . . . . most of the People coming and finding the way to get money From This company and if you as a Cruise member say Hello to one kid the parents already say you are abusing their Child but they do Not Know the company wash their hands and do Not give nathing and they fix a inocent person..!!! . . . I worked with this guy, this just cannot be true. Plus after being on ships for more then 4 years, I have seen everything when it comes to guests trying to get things for free and to get money from the company. Its sick, and some people will stoop to really low levels . . ."

"I don’t think the guy did it i know this guy nobody here can tell me anything I’ve been working with him and I still work for the company .. .  is about americans that wants money for free just saying nonsenses . . . "

One crew member who said he previously worked with the alleged assailant on the Disney Fantasy made this outlandish, misogynous attack:   ‘I think you need to educate your kids, cause you can not blame a man when your daughter is wearing a short showing what she’s not suppose to show at her age." 

Unfortunately, every time we write an article about a crew member molesting a child, I hear these same type of groundless accusations by crew members expressing doubt of the crime and attacking the victim. These defensive and mean-spirited comments are troubling. They also reveal a fundamental lack of proper training and a lack of empathy on the Disney fleet of cruise ships. The problem is wider than just Disney Cruises. 

Costa Sexual AssaultLast October, a Honduran Costa crew member allegedly sexually molested a 15 yer old girl aboard the Costa Diadema.  When we mentioned the alleged crime on our blog, crew members made these comments: "I dont’t think it’s true story written here. The guy is 50 , and the girl is 15. Honduras guy is not a stupit (sic) to do something drectly. Maybe she called him to came to cabin to ask something and he misunderstand what she says . . .  That’s why, never go to guest cabin, where a minor is staying, they will make up all kind of stories, just to get something out of it."

On the same Costa cruise ship, a bartender, Mark Guinucud from Manila, Philippines, allegedly followed an 18 year-old French woman into her cabin and raped her brutally. But his co-employee friends quickly came to his defense: 

"I do not believe this! I know that guy and I’ve been his colleague from a hotel before and he is not that kind of man to rape a woman specially a foreigner? Mark is kind and gentleman and he is a good friend of ours. He will never do anything like this. Why would he even rape a girl when he came over there just to work for him and for his family? I suspect that the French woman is making up stories. . . ." 

After Royal Caribbean Karan Seechurn from Mauritius (a mini-bar attendant) was arrested on the Quantum of the Seas after he used his master key to enter a woman’s cabin at night while he was Royal Caribbean Sexual Assaultwas off-duty and molested the woman while she was sleeping, a crew member friend commented "I worked RCCL and I think . . . this is a vindictive allegation for money."  Seechurn later pleaded guilty and was sent to jail. 

Some crew members reacted cynically even when there is no denying that the attack was particularly brutal. A Holland America Line (HAL) crew member Ketut Pujayasa, age 28, from Indonesia, sexually assaulted, brutally beat and then tried to throw a woman overboard from her balcony on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Even though the crew member was later sentenced to 30 years in jail, the passenger who was savagely victimized was faced with baseless criticism from some of the crew members. One commented on our article:

"Some passenger sometime will do anything to avoid paying, including false aligation for rape, American are full of drama, they complain about everything they could from the first time they step on the cruise. Finding a way to cut cost. Some single lady’s already are so lonely , and sluty they are desperate for sex on the cruise, they invite a crew member, if they are not satisfied they do something like this . . . "

In fact, the crew member beat and choked the woman so savagely (warning graphic photos) that she is lucky to be alive. Certainly no rational person would suggest that a victim faked such horrendous injuries in order to file a false claim against a crew member. 

But the cynicism against such claims brought by passengers is pervasive on the ships. This attitude flows from the management of cruise lines through the supervisors down to the crew. The "us versus them" mentality when a crew member is accused of a crime is alive and well in the cruise ships’ security departments.  Yahoo Travel just published Ships Have HAL Sexual AssaultPadded Cells for Problem Passengers and Other Confessions of a Cruise Security Officer in which a security officer for Holland America Line makes the claim that some passengers specifically come on the cruise ship to "scam the ship" and allege that the "ship did something wrong to them" in order to claim money or a free cruise.  

Such a discussion makes a mockery of the reality of cruise ship crime and illustrates the built-in bias of the cruise lines when dealing with crime victims. Yet, the cruise industry seems to love the Yahoo article; the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) twitter feed re-tweeted the Yahoo article as a sign of approval. 

A victim of sexual molestation, particularly a young girl, needs unqualified love and support from the community around her, not cynical accusations of conspiracy, particularly from the crew members of the magical cruise community which promised her a dream cruise right before Christmas. 

  • Leigh

    Having seen both sides of this issue on land in court and at sea as a veteran of over 100 cruises, what I see here is a rush to judgment on both sides of the issue. Some crew members do get framed while innocent and will plead guilty because they simply do not understand our legal system and make their decisions based on their own home country legal system’s attitude even when having legal representation and translators in court. On the other hand, I have seen girls as young as 8 dress as provocatively as a street walker and act just as sexually forward as such on ships. And, their parents turn a blind eye and let them run wild thinking a ship is a protected environment when it is no more than a city at sea with all of its inherent dangers. I have also seen people, adults and children both, come on a ship and deliberately try to provoke an event to get a free cruise. The cruise environment is not what it was even ten years ago. Passengers seem to think that what happens on a cruise stays on a cruise and behave in ways that would make their home friends stand in total shock and say exactly what the crew member’s friends have said. I would prefer to see this website REPORT the cruise news and not immediately decide who is the guilty party. That’s for the courts to determine, not this website. Friends will defend friends which is perfectly normal. Just because someone is arrested doesn’t necessarily mean they will ever end up in a courtroom.

  • Leigh:

    A couple of point in response to your comments.

    I am not going to withhold my opinion about who I think is criminally responsible when a man reportedy admits to a crime against a child. Only a juror sworn in by a judge has to swear that a defendant is presumed innocent and waits to decide the suspect’s fate until all of the evidnence has been admitted into the record. In this case, there will be no criminal trial by a jury to determine whether a crime took place. The judge will deliver a sentence and this crew member will go to jail, like all of the crew members mentioned above who pleaded guilty of the charges aganst them.

    Your comments about how a girl dresses are totally out of line. A man who molests a girl who is dressed as “provocatively as a street walker” is just like a man who molests a child dressed like a nun – they are both child perverts / pedophiles and should go to jail.

  • Annonimous

    Bro There is A camera 360 º that could Be the salvation of the guy also the security of Disney Magic Push you to change your statement always along with other officer Is happened to me Once and I still have the copy of my statement that they want me to change So i played smart and a wrote down what they want me to write it but felowed i put that they were pushing me to do it and they never realized about it a ask for a copy and they gave me the copy also so i think that happened with this guy

  • Anonymous:

    You make a good point – the cruise ship security may lie and want you to falsify your statement (yes I have seen this many times) but the surveillance cameras don’t lie. And I am sure that the shipboard security has seen any video showing the crew member and the child and may have handed it over to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

  • Saamh

    Could it be possible that the confession was forced or the way in which he was asked could have been worded in such a way to get him to confess (i.e. difference in translation)? For example, if he bumped into someone and they asked if he touched her and he admitted to bumping her? If this occurred in a public area there should be video footage and if he was a merchandise worker I find it unlikely he would have access to passengers in a non public area.

  • We have read what Leigh wrote and Jim’s response, as well as Anonymous. Our opinion is that all have valid points. BUT, there are a few things to keep in mind. Remember that on ships there are 60+ different nationalities at work, and while we would say almost all are very well trained to follow the rules of no mingling with guests in inappropriate manners, (assuming 100% of those involved know what “inappropriate” stands for, as for some it is one thing, for others it is another!) and also being very serious about following the rule of never walking into a cabin on your own, or working in a cabin with the door closed, and lots of things that are there to abide by, because, it has happened (and will continue to happen) that sometimes, (and we are not pro – crew here, but this is a fact) the intentions of passengers are not totally straight and sometimes crew will fall victim of such intentions. Of course at times too, we are sure there is guilty crew. But, we would say 99% of crew is very zealous of their job and have gone through great lengths to get a job that pays well at sea, compared to home. People don’t just go throwing away these opportunities just like that, and know better than to sexually assault kids or others. That being said, it does not say that there cannot be others who commit crimes. At the same time, we do know too that there is sex involved with passengers more often than not, and that for some passengers, having a fun time with a crew member is also in their cruise agenda. We have seen it, and have seen how provocative they can be. We have fired crew for getting intimate with passengers. We’ve had passengers plea that the crew member not be punished. We have had passengers lie to ship management hiding their sex times with crew so that the crew member wouldn’t loose her/his job. (only in less than a handful of times). So these situations can be a huge trap for any unsuspecting crew that decides to take the risk and fall to temptation. We comment because we were in management positions on cruise ships, and can say we have “seen it all”. No one has the crystal ball of the total truth, but it is quite accurate that the companies will leave the crew member (almost) unprotected the moment the crew member gets into anything that requires legal assistance. They will never work hard to defend any crew member, because to the company the passenger is more important, as it is linked to business and their image (it all translates into $$) so the Security officer may believe you, the Captain may believe you, your colleagues may swear and put their hands in the fire for your behavior, but you are toast, you are disposable as you all of a sudden are not needed anymore, and you can become a potential problem and cost if they keep you and defend you. Assuming you are not guilty and that you were set up (it is feasible that things are just a huge misunderstanding (remember too that for some people/cultures some behaviors are okay and for other people/cultures they are not, add to that the lack of good English and bad expressions) so the ships become a melting pot of these issues that take place. Even without any sexual behavior, you can have a person of a certain nationality say something to a passenger and that passenger walk into our offices irate because of what or how the crewmember said something, and we, having been years at sea and being good at interpreting what foreign crew wants to say/do, we can “translate” what the cewmember said/did to the passenger and still the passenger will think we are defending the crew. Which we are, because we know exactly what the crewmember is saying and why he/she is using that term. There are tons of examples like that. But of course, if taken to court, you will admit that you used that language, yes, you said “black people hair” instead of “african american hair” and have offended the passenger. But that’s because in the Netherlands or Chile or wherever you are from, you refer to a person of color as black, and only in America that person is an African American. But in the Netherlands, that person is a black person, as he/she could be Jamaican English, or African Italian or Brazilian Nigerian. Anyway, that example was to illustrate that the language can sometime play against you. Again, I repeat, cruise ships is normally a great environment, with hard working people and passengers on vacation wanting to have fun. Weeks fly along with loads of fun and few problems. But in our 18years at sea … boy have we seen female passengers claim abuse of some sort and in many cases it was enough to just take a “look” at the situation and how it allegedly had transpired, to see it was a set up and that the crew member fell right into it. But what to do? It is the passenger word vs. the foreign and sometimes English deficient crew member, who will not get the support he/she should get as a human being, and be left in the hands of a Lawyer – with all due respect Jim – who will treat him as “one more case” of the millions he has dealt with, and the crew member might not (for sure!) know anything about the legal system and trust fully he is being helped by the company to a fair treatment, and will most likely find himself alone and in a worse scenario. We’ve seen some of this happen…and can only imagine the rest. BUT…this opinion is not written here to judge, as we seldom know 100% exactly what transpired. Cameras just see behavior, gestures, they don’t record words…and there are no cameras inside rooms. So, guess who will always be at a disadvantage and never presumed innocent? The crew member. From the start, a crew member stands little or no chance when accused by a passenger. As management, if a passenger came to us to report a crew member for any “criminal” reason, specially abuse, we would have to immediately alert Security, Staff Captain, Captain and in turn, they would alert the company. Nobody wants to have this case in their hands, it is like a hot potato passing hands, REGARDLESS if the passenger is right or not. (which we onboard will not know for sure, until the results of an investigation) The crew member will become a suspect right then and there, and it normally all goes downhill for the crew member as of that point. Even if the crew member were found not guilty, the sole fact that he would have been involved in “something” and would have to leave his/her job to face authorities or a legal process (maybe), is enough for the company to now not “need the crew member anymore” and off he/she goes without a job. Guilty or not guilty. Sorry for our English, it is hard to express thoughts on issues that go from being on one side of the guilty line, to the other..and we can only imagine how not expressing yourself in good English can do to the decision of whether you are innocent or not when faced with the Jury. And yes, regardless of the fact that there are crew that break the rules and commit crimes, there are as many passengers who board ships with the intention of creating a scenario that will give them millions when settling in court.