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.
Last 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 was 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 Padded 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.