MSC OrchestraThe German newspaper, Bild, recently published a blockbuster article tilted Child Molester on Dream Boat which reports that MSC Cruises rehired a crew member who had been accused of sexually molesting a ten year old child. MSC is accused of flying the crew member back to India rather than turning him over to law enforcement.

The newspaper states that the sexual molestation occurred in 2015 on the MSC Orchestra. The 45 year old cabin attendant is alleged to have sexually abused a 10 year old boy traveling with his German parents on the MSC cruise ship during a Baltic cruise. The minor’s parents were reportedly at a performance in the ship’s theater when the Indian crew member entered the cabin “supposedly to change towels.”

Another German newspaper, the Berliner Kurier, reported that the steward tried to entertain the boy by folding towel animals before pulling the child’s pants down. The cabin attendant told the child not to tell his parents anything. However, after his parents return to the stateroom the boy told them what happen and they immediately reported the assault to the ship’s captain.

But after the cruise ended in Tallinn, the cabin attendant was not arrested but instead, on the same day, was flown at MSC’s expense back to India.

The newspapers state that, a few months later, MSC rehired the steward, but he was subsequently arrested on a European criminal warrant in May 2017 when the MSC cruise ship called on Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The judge sentenced the MSC crew member to 22 months imprison, and added that “I find it strange that the cruise company rehires someone who is accused of sexual abuse to MSC Cruises Sexual Crimea child . . . ”

The popular Crew Center website asked these basic questions:

  • Why did the captain not hand over the crew member immediately to the police authorities in Estonia, instead of sending him to India?
  • Does the company check the records before rehiring a crew member?

Berliner Kurier reported that its editorial staff asked MSC to explain why the captain did not hand over the crew member immediately to the Estonian police instead of flying its employee out of the jurisdiction. MSC refused to comment.

We have also asked for a statement from MSC which has not responded to date.

This case follows a pattern which we have discussed many times, where parents leave their children in what they believe is the security of their cabin to attend a dinner or show, and a cabin attendant enters the cabin during their absence. Sexual assaults by cabin attendants in staterooms are the most frequent type of shipboard sexual crimes on cruises, in our opinion. And it’s not uncommon for cruise lines to immediately fly their employees accused of such crimes back to their home country like this, as this infamous case clearly reveals.

The crew member reportedly worked for MSC as a cabin attendant for 13 years. The question arises how many other times this pedophile abused children in this manner.

This summer, NBC News aired a special program regarding Hidden Dangers for Children on Cruise Ships. Earlier this month, we reported on the arrest of a U.S. passenger, age 30, who is accused of raping a 15 year old boy on a NCL cruise ship.

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Photo credit:Top – MSC Orchestra in Tallinn – Bin im Garten, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom – Bild.

Last fall, the Arizona Republic reported that cruise travelers for the first time can see what crimes are being reported aboard cruise ships operating in U.S. ports.

The newspaper commented on improvements once the Department of Transportation replaced the Coast Guard as the agency responsible for reporting crimes on cruise ships leaving US. ports. Consumers previously needed to check the websites of each cruise line to try and find out what crimes occur on which cruise line. Carnival Corporation bundled the crimes of its brands (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises)  together under one name, HAl Veendamso that it was impossible for consumers to identify on which cruise line the reported crimes occurred.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") of 2010  was supposed to provide the public with reports of certain crimes aboard cruise ships, such as deaths, sexual assaults, thefts and missing-person reports.

But the cruise-friendly agencies responsible for disclosing the crime statistics requested changes to the wording in the CVSSA which rendered crime-reporting provisions useless.

Language added before its passage altered the CVSSA bill so that only crimes "no longer under investigation by the FBI" were reported on the website. An Arizona Republic investigation in 2012 revealed the language was altered at the request of the FBI and the Coast Guard, apparently with pressure from the cruise industry

The problem is that the FBI often refused to open files when crime occurred on cruise ships or, when it did, the FBI often kept its files open long after it has decided not to investigate the case. So any crime that the FBI didn’t investigate – or when it technically kept its investigation files open – was not included in the Coast Guard database.

The language of the statute was changed which resulted in far more crimes, particularly sexual assaults, being disclosed to to the public by the DOT. In the first six months of 2016 far more sexual assaults were disclosed (39) than during the same period in 2015 (6) when the reporting was disclosed on the Coast guard portal.  

You can see the DOT’s portal here.

But a major problem remains.  The cruise lines are the one which determine whether an incident constitutes "sexual assault." Many cases of sexual molestation of minors are mis-classified as "groping" or as "inappropriate touching," neither of which is a crime under the CVSSA .

The same is true regarding the sexual offense which the HAL waiter was arrested for on the Holland America Line Veendam last week. The CVSSA does not include "lewd and lascivious" conduct with a child as a reportable offense. 

Cruise expert Professor Dr. Ross Klein, who has testified regarding the issue of crime on cruise ships Gede Sukrantara, HAL Veendambefore the U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate, pointed this problem out on his website last October. Dr. Klein has reviewed hundreds of incident reports submitted by cruise lines and has observed a tendency for cruise lines to report incidents of sexual assault as either "sexual contact" (which is not reportable under the CVSSA) or as "molestation" or as "groping" or "inappropriate touching" or "lewd and lascivious conduct" (none of which are reportable pursuant to the specific language of the statute). 

The cruise victim’s group, the International Cruise Victims, has tried to introduce legislation requiring the cruise industry to disclose when children are victims of crime.  Several years ago, Dr. Klein determined that between 17.5 and 30 percent of the sexual assault victims on cruise ships are minors. The cruise industry vigorously opposed the legislation and refuses to disclose when children are sexually assaulted on their ships.

The crime that occurred on the Veendam when a 26 year old Indonesian HAL waiter (photo right) locked himself in a bathroom on the cruise ship and engaged in oral sex with a fifteen year old girl is exactly the type of sexual misconduct that families need to understand happens all too often on family cruise vacations, no matter how hard the cruise industry tries to parse words to keep it secret.

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Photo credit: Top: Fletcher6 – CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia. ; bottom: Gede Sukrantara Facebook page.

A newspaper in Italy reports that two days ago police arrested a 51 year old crew member, who had gone ashore in Livorno, on charges of sexual assaulting a child believed to be around 7 to 8 years old.

The crew member is identified as a Filipino bar tender who arrived in Livorno on an unidentified cruise ship in port. He took a bus into the city and come across a group of school children when, according to an eye witness, he allegedly sexually molested the child.  The witness who observed the incident immediately alerted the teachers who accompanied the student group, while the 51 year old man attempted to get away. The witness followed at a distance without losing sight of the man and reported the alleged incident to the police who arrested him. Other bystanders were threatening to attack the man. 

According to the Crew Center website which reported on the alleged crime, there were five cruise ships in the port of Livorno that day: the Azamara Quest, Holland America Line Eurodam, Norwegian Epic, and Pullmantur Sovereign

Livorno is a major port called on by many cruise lines where passengers can take excursions to Pisa, Florence, or the Cinque Terre region.

Although this incident, if true, took off of the cruise ship, it should act as a reminder that pedophiles, both crew members and passengers, exist on cruises just like in your home town.  One of the first articles I wrote when I started this blog several years ago dealt with this issue – Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships.

May 29 2016 Update:  The bartender, I have learned, was reportedly employed aboard HAL’s Eurodam.

Photo Credit: Luca Aless – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia

Juan Manuel Palma Ortega / Disney Wonder Sexual Assault MinorWSVN Channel 7 reports that a 31 year old man was arrested for allegedly molesting  an 11-year-old girl aboard a Disney cruise ship which sailed last week from the port of Miami.

The news channel says that the man is from Honduras and he allegedly fondled the little girl on board the Disney Magic, which sailed from Port Miami on December 18, 2015. The stations says that "while on the ship, the girl told her parents that a man, later identified as 31-year-old Juan Manuel Palma Ortega, fondled her three times."

The Magic returned to the port of Miami yesterday.

The station further reports that "Miami-Dade police detained Palma Ortega back at Port Miami, where he allegedly confessed to the crime. He was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor and is being held without bond."  

His mug shot is to the left.

The news article does not state whether he is a crew member or not. His Facebook page states that from Tegucigalpa, Honduras where many crew members are from. However, there is no information confirming this yet.

This latest alleged crime should serve to remind the public that sexual assault of minors do occur on cruise ships, even on those cruise ships which cater to families.

Last year, a Disney employee, age 36, of Jakarta Indonesia (photo below right), employed as a cabin attendant on the Disney Dream, molested a girl during a family cruise. He befriended the family during the cruise and assaulted the 13 year old girl on the last morning of the cruise. We are representing the family of the child.  The Port Canaveral Police department arrested the Disney cruise employee. He was Disney Pervert Cruise Shipsentenced earlier this year to 70 months in jail.  You can read about that case here.

Disney refused to timely report a similar incident when a 33 year old Disney waiter molested an 11 year old girl on the Disney Dream. Although the incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port in Port Canaveral, Disney sailed the cruise ship to the Bahamas in what appeared to be an attempt to aid the crew member in escaping justice. The Bahamas, as expected, refused to arrest the molester and Disney then flew the crew member back to his home country, India. WKMG covered the disturbing story. You can see photos of the incident here and read our account of the crime here.

Florida is the only state which gives jurisdiction to state police agencies to arrest foreign crew members or passengers who commit sexual crimes in international waters and provides jurisdiction to state prosecutors to criminally charge these perverts. Typically other states must rely on the FBI and federal prosecutors who do a terrible job investigating crimes at sea,  

Photo Credit: Top: Miami-Dade County Police via WSVN; Bottom FOX 35.

WFTV reports that a crew member on a Carnival cruise ship allegedly sexually assaulted a teenage boy last Friday.

The news station says that Carnival announced the incident, although it is less than clear when or how the cruise line made the statement. 

The incident allegedly occurred on board the Carnival Valor, which is based in Port Canaveral.

Yovany Sauzo-BatizThe news article reports that the cruise line notified the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI of the incident. Here’s how WFTV described the case, based on the Sheriff’s office.

"Yovany Sauzo-Batiz, 46, of Honduras, was working on the Carnival Valor as a stateroom steward Friday when he tried to start a conversation with a teenage passenger in a sauna. The victim then moved to a shower area to avoid the suspect when the alleged sexual conduct occurred. Immediately following the incident, the victim identified the crewmember to his father, who detained him with the assistance of other passengers until ship security arrived.”

Sauzo-Batiz was charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation.

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Photo Credit:Brevard Sheriff’s Office via WFTV

After a 33 year-old Disney waiter molested an 11 year-old girl aboard the Disney Dream at the port of Cape Canaveral, the cruise ship’s staff captain ordered a security officer not to contact local U.S. police officers or the FBI. 

That’s what former Disney security officer Dawn Taplin told Orlando news station WKMG Local 6 in an interview which aired last night. WKMG reporter Mike DeForest conducted the interview.  

The Dream then left the U.S. port and sailed to Nassau where Disney flew the pervert back to his home in India.

According to the WKMG interview, Officer Taplin previously worked for the Palm Bay Police Department and Port Canaveral Police. Disney Cruise Child MolestationDisney recruited her to work for the family-oriented cruise line as a Security Officer. She was responsible for supervising 8 or 9 security guards. She was the first female security officer at Disney. 

In 2012 Officer Taplin was involved in the investigation of a child molestation case on the Disney Dream. An upset, crying 11 year-old girl told her that a 33 year-old Disney waiter followed her into an elevator and grabbed her breast and kissed her on the mouth. Officer Taplin reviewed surveillance video that confirmed the incident and wanted to call Port Canaveral police or her longtime contact with the FBI in Brevard County. However, Officer Taplin says that the cruise ship’s staff captain ordered her not to report the crime. 

WKMG reported that the Disney Dream left Port Canaveral promptly at 5:02 p.m. with the victim and the molestation suspect still on board.

Officer Taplin told WKMG that "Disney waits on passengers’ luggage . . . not setting sail on time. I remember waiting until 6:30 one time on somebody’s luggage."

The Disney staff captain was not identified in the interview.  it will be interesting to determine his identity and find out whether he is still working on Disney cruise ships. It will also be interesting to learn whether the staff captain contacted Disney’s shore-side risk management department about the crime before the cruise ship left the jurisdiction and determine whether the quick departure was approved by Disney’s corporate management. Disney was quoted, when WKMG exposed the cover-up, saying that the ship handled the case properly. 

Image and video credit:  WKMG Local 6 (Orlando)

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Tonight an Orlando television station is airing an interview with a former Disney Cruise Line security officer about her experiences working aboard Disney cruise ships.

WKMG (Orlando) has released a short preview of the interview on a Facebook page. The program tonight is entitled "Exposed – Crimes Going Unreported."

The interview was conducted by WKMG reporter Mike DeForest. The Facebook page states:

"I speak exclusively with a former Disney Cruise Line Security Officer. She’ll expose the Disney Cruise - Sexual Assaultcrime she saw while working on the inside, and share info you and your family need to know before sailing."

WKMG has been the leader in reporting on cases where Disney cruise line employees have sexually molested girls during cruises. 

Last year, WKMG reported on a 33 year old Disney waiter sexually assaulted an 11 year old girl. Even though the crime occurred at the port in Cape Canaveral in Florida waters, Disney refused to report it to U.S. law enforcement and sailed the cruise ship to the Bahamas where Disney flew the sexual predator back to India.

This year, a 36 year old Disney cabin attendant sexually molested a 13 year old girl aboard the Disney Dream.

Hopefully this former Disney security officer can shed some insight into the case where Disney refused to report the child molester to the police in the U.S. 

I will be posting the interviews when they become public. Update: Watch the complete video here: Disney Dream Child Molestation Case: Staff Captain Instructed Security Officer Not to Contact U.S. Law Authorities.

 

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KTOO in Alaska reports on what is being described as an alleged sexual assault by a thirty year old man against a 12 year old girl on a cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises. 

KTOO states that a "30-year-old Japanese man allegedly groped a Canadian girl near the pool of a Celebrity cruise ship on June 28th. The alleged attack took place after the ship had departed Ketchikan, but while it was still in Alaska waters."

The incident was reported to ship security who apparently did not detain the man but reported the Cruise Sexual Assault - Celebrity Century Cruise Ship  incident to the Vancouver Police Department. Vancouver authorities initially investigated but turned the matter over to the the FBI, The FBI, in turn, then referred the case to Alaskan State Troopers.

The Alaskan Troopers say the case has been referred to the District Attorney in Ketchikan, Alaska for review.

KRBD identifies the cruise ship as the Celebrity Century. The news station states that no one has been arrested.

The case illustrates the difficulties prosecuting crimes on cruise ships.

A 30 year old Japanese man apparently molests a 12 year old Canadian girl in Alaskan state waters. The cruise ship apparently does not apprehend the man or return to an Alaskan port. The ship sails on to Vancouver, Canada which does not arrest the man even though the victim is Canadian, but reports the crime to the FBI which does not have jurisdiction because the incident occurred in state territorial waters of Alaska. The FBI sends the matter back to Alaska where the crime is alleged to occur.  By the time the Alaskan Troopers are involved, the Japanese man is long gone. 

Around and around we go, with no one wanting the hot potato, and the cruise line hoping the situation will just disappear.

The local District Attorney in Ketchikan Alaska is now looking at trying to figure out how to prosecute a Japanese cruise passenger, who allegedly molested a little Canadian girl, and who probably escaped to Japan and will never return to the U.S. again.

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Photo Credit: Cruise Critic

Gary Lee Reed - Chilh PornographyIn a story we first reported on in December last year, a cruise passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for transporting thousands of child pornography photos and videos on a cruise from Port Canaveral. 

Gary Lee Reed seemed like a normal passenger but an initial search of his laptop computer revealed 1,162 photos and videos when he cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas ship during a cruise to the Bahamas and back to Florida. 

Federal agents searched the 47-year-old’s computer laptop he brought during the cruise and found the extensive collection of child pornography. The Orlando Sentinel reported that around 350 of the victims in photos and videos were identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The images included sexual abuse of toddlers and babies.

Reed was returning to Port Canaveral at the end of the cruise to the Bahamas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations.

Reed is from Idaho and a newspaper there reported earlier this year that Reed had a desktop computer, thumb drives, CDs and DVDs where he downloaded and stored child pornography images at his home.

A forensic search of the computers, discs, USB flash and digital hard drives revealed a staggering amount of child pornography: 38,731 images and 680 videos of child pornography.  A more detailed search of his laptop seized after the cruise in Florida revealed a total of 3,021 images and 2000 videos of child pornography.

Reed faced up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release for the crime, according to the plea agreement, which adds that he will also have to register as a sex offender.

Think passengers and crew members with child porn on cruises are rare? Read here

 

Photo Credit: Florida Today

A police officer in Nassau, Bahamas finds himself in the middle of a controversy regarding another botched investigation by the Bahamas into a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship matter.    

Nassau police superintendent Paul Rolle is quoted in an article in the Nassau Guardian about the molestation of an 11 year old girl by a 33 year old crew member aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship, saying: "As far as I am concerned there is no complaint in the Bahamas and there is no issue."

These remarkably insensitive comments by police officer Rolle in the Bahamas are an insight into how indifferent many law enforcement officials are in the flag-of-convenience countries where cruise lines register their cruise ships to avoid the scrutiny of the United States.      

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Molestation CaseJust today an article appeared in the Australian press discussing how cruise ship passengers who fall victim to serious crime may find their cases handled in countries like the Bahamas with poor human rights records. The articles states: "More than half of the world’s cruise ships are registered in Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas . . . passengers could have their case heard in countries with a poor human rights records and a history of ignoring crimes against women."

In the Disney Dream case, the shipboard video clearly shows the Disney crew member stalking the child and following her into an elevator. The child promptly reported to cruise ship security that the Disney crew member grabbed her breast and kissed her. This occurred an hour and one-half before the ship’s departure time. (The Nassau Guardian erroneously reports that the incident occurred on the cruise "shortly after it left Port Canaveral.")  But Disney decided not to promptly report the crime to the Port Canaveral police, choosing instead to sail out of the U.S. jurisdiction. It reported the matter the next day to the Bahamas which permitted the crew member to fly home to India.

In an article "Police Defend Action in Cruise Ship Matter," Officer Rolle says:

"The Americans already have their laws as to how they deal with matters on-board any ship that is owed by Americans or an American company. The fact is that the individuals at the time did not wish any complaint and no one has since come forward and indicated that they wanted to make a complaint."

Rolle is wrong on both counts.

Disney Cruise Line is not an "American" company. It legally operates as the "Magical Cruise Line" and incorporated itself in the U.K. and registered its cruise ships in the Bahamas to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and oversight. 

Regarding the victim’s alleged decision not to make a complaint, the fact is that the little girl and her Disney Cruise Sexual Assault - Child Molestationgrandmother did make a complaint to the security personnel of the Bahamian-flagged cruise ship. A victim does not have to make multiple complaints on and off the ship over multiple days. The girl cooperated in answering the security officer’s questions (in tears), completing forms and identifying the Disney perpetrator. The girl and her grandmother demonstrated courage by pressing criminal charges when they should have been enjoying the beginning of a cruise of a lifetime. 

If Disney had reported the crime immediately to the police in Port Canaveral or provided the child’s grandmother with the local police’s telephone numbers, the case would have turned out differently. As the Brevard County Attorney General said: "the decision to prosecute that serious a crime in Florida rests with a prosecutor, not a grandmother."

Plus, there are many reasons why a child and her grandmother may have decided not to make a second complaint in the Bahamas. How was the child treated after making the first complaint?  The Disney perpetrator should have been handcuffed and taken off the cruise ship and the girl should have seen a counselor. Instead, the girl was forced to sail on the ship with the perpetrator still aboard.

The reporter investigating the crime, Tony Pipitone, said that the cruise line repeatedly provided him with false information. Did Disney also lie to the child and her grandmother?  In many cases, we see the cruise lines and police officers at the next port of call intimidate the victim’s family. They tell them that they will have to travel back to port of call repeatedly for criminal hearings and trial. By the time the cruise ship arrived in Nassau, the little girl and her grandmother were undoubtedly tired and traumatized. They had not been permitted to speak with U.S. law enforcement, a social worker or counselor, or their own legal representatives.  Instead they had to deal with Disney and the Bahamas which have their own agenda to keep matters like this quiet.

Rolle is sensitive to issues of tourism. He understands the effects of crime on tourism both in the Bahamas and on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships. When a U.S. crew member was shot and killed in Nassau two weeks ago, Rolle defended himself saying "We aren’t no play-play cartoon police force." He told the Nassau Guardian "Tourism is our life blood.”  

Nassau Bahamas Paul Rolle Police Superintendent Bahamas police officer Rolle is also no stranger to Disney cruise ship controversies and protecting Disney’s image. When a Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam, disappeared from the Bahamian-flagged Disney Wonder two years ago under disturbing circumstances, it was Rolle who the Bahamas tasked with flying over to Los Angeles to briefly board the cruise ship to investigate what happened.  Rolle conducted a quickie investigation which of course exonerated Disney. The international media characterized Rolle’s efforts as a "farce" designed to assist Disney in covering the matter up. 

Rolle promised the Coriam family that he would release the results of his "investigation" into their daughter’s disappearance. But he has persistently refused to do so. To date, the Bahamas refuses to cooperate with the Coriam family and has kept Rolle’s report secret from the family. Disney and the Bahamas have erected a wall of silence when the Coriam family seek information about Rebecca.      

With the likes of tourism-sensitive Officer Rolle responsible for official cruise ship investigations, it is no wonder that Disney refused to timely report the child molestation to the U.S. police in Port Canaveral. By sailing the crime scene over to the Bahamas, media-sensitive Disney assured that its police friends in Nassau would do nothing. Disney could then fly its child-molester employee home with Rolle’s blessings.  

 

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Photo Credit:

Top: WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando

Middle: Jim Walker

Bottom: Nassau Guardian