A twenty-one year old college student was arrested last week after a grand jury indicted him on charges of assaulting a woman onboard the Carnival Legend earlier this year. The Department of Justice published a press release indicating that Jalen Kelly was indicted last week of (1) assault, (2) sexual abuse, and (3) aggravated sexual abuse of a young woman on the Carnival cruise ship.

The case was filed in federal court in Baltimore, Mayland. The defendant is from the state of Maryland where the cruise originated. The DOJ press release indicates that Mr, Kelly allegedly engaged in a “sexual act by force” and assaulted “Victim 1” without consent on board the Carnival Legend.

The press release credits the cooperation of the Wingate University Campus Safety and Wingate Police Department for their assistance. Mr. Kelley appears to be a student at Wingate University.

The indictment also includes “child exploitation forfeiture” allegations pursuant to 18 U.S. C. Section 2251 et seq. where the U.S. government seeks the recovery of any “film or videotape” or other “visual depictions” of the alleged sexual abuse.

The indictment and court records contain no details of the alleged crime but reasonably suggest that the victim may be a minor given the child exploitation forfeiture allegations.

The cruise industry refuses to disclose, generally, when the victim of a sexual assault on a cruise ship is a minor. However, testimony of the FBI before Congress indicates that approximately one-third of sex crimes on cruises are committed against children,

Cruise lines are required by law, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act of 2010 (CVSSA), to report certain crimes to the Department of Transportation (DOT) which is required to post the crimes on a public database on a internet portal maintained by the federal agency. The crime data must be posted on a quarterly basis.

Unfortunately, the DOT has not posted any cruise ship crime data for this year (2023). The last crimes reported were in 2022.

The DOT data for 2022 indicates that there were a total of 87 sexual assaults on cruise ships for that year. Of this number, there were 33 sexual assaults reported on cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Line, 22 on Royal Caribbean ships, and 7 on NCL ships.

Given the DOT’s failure to post the crime data, it is currently unknown whether sexual crimes during cruises are staying the same or are increasing.

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Image credit: Jalen Kelley – Gaston County Jail via Recently Booked; Carnival LegendYankeesman312 – CC BY-SA 4.0 wikipedia / creative commons.