The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced last week that Salem Christopher Diop, age 22, of Kingston, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a federal grand jury on a sexual assault charge.

The indictment and press release state that on July 8, 2023, Diop was on a cruise when he engaged in sexual assault with a victim “incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct.” The court filing and press release do not refer to the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the sexual assault took place.

Sexually assaulting a victim who is “incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct” typically occurs when the victim is impaired by a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance.

The court file does not contain any details of the circumstances leading to the alleged sexual assault. The allegations constitute a felony.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny P. Roberts is prosecuting the case.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.

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 suppose 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. 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.

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

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