The Miami New Times reports today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a 35 year-old cruise ship youth counselor employed by Celebrity Cruises for sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl in the youth center of the Celebrity Silhouette during a cruise to the Caribbean a week ago.

The child was taking a cruise with her parents aboard the Royal Caribbean-owned cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises, when the crime took place. Her parents had dropped the little child off at a “Camp at Sea program” at the youth center on the cruise ship on the morning of November 27th. The youth counselor, known as “CJ,” who was identified as Cris John Pentinio Castor, an employee hired in the Philippines according to his Facebook page, inappropriately touched the child under her clothing “in the vicinity of her vagina” while she played a video game.  

After a FBI special agent boarded the ship when it returned to its home port on November 30th, the Celebrity crew member reportedly waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily told FBI investigators that he molested not only the girl but at least three other minor children while they were visiting the center on the cruise ship since August.

The article was written by Naomi Feinstein of the Miami New Times. She writes:

“Between 2010 and 2022, nearly 70 percent of reported sexual assaults (including passenger-on-passenger assaults) on U.S. cruises occurred on ships owned by Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, which have the largest market share of passengers in the cruise industry by a wide margin at 43 percent and 22 percent, respectively, as of 2021.

New Times reported in 2019 that sexual assaults were the most frequently reported felony crime on cruises and that cruise lines repeatedly tried to cover up incidents.’

We have repeatedly reported that approximately one-third of sexual crimes on cruise ships involve minors. It’s dangerous to leave your children alone on cruise ships or trust ship employees with your kids. There is no sexual predator database in the Philippines where this crew member was hired. We have handled over one-hundred and twenty-five sexual assault cases against passengers on cruise ships over the past twenty years. Approximately over-third of the cases involved minors.

The prime location we have concluded for a crew member to assault young children is in the guest cabin. Cabin attendants can use their master key cards to enter cabins if and when parents leave their kids, thinking its safe to go to a club or bar at night.

This particular crime is occurring at a time when the Department of Transportation (“DOT”), FBI and the cruise industry are no longer disclosing crime reports on an internet portal as required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. There has been no reports of shipboard crimes since December of 2022, although there typically are as many as over 100 sexual assaults on cruise ships a year. The DOT has ignored our efforts to obtain an explanation for the absence of the crime incidents reports for the past year.

Business Insider also published The US government is required to publish reports of criminal activity on cruise ships every quarter. They haven’t all year.

Business Insider recently published Rape at sea: How a broken system is failing passengers and darkening the cruise industry in which it concluded that “Sexual assault is rife on cruise ships.”

The criminal case pending against the crew member is pending in the United States District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Case No.: 0:23-mj-065575- PAB AB.

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Photo credit: Celebrity Silhouette Arvid Olson/Flickr via Miami New Times; Celebrity crew member – Facebook and BrowardMugShot on Instagram.

December 6, 2023 Update:

USA TODAY covers the story.