The FBI arrested a crew member working on a cruise ship sailing out of Bayonne, New Jersey for abusive sexual contact of a passenger after he allegedly snuck into her cabin while she was sleeping.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in federal court in New Jersey, the federal government alleges that crew member KARAN SEECHURN violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 2244(a)(2). This statute defines as a crime to knowingly engage in sexual contact with an adult female including the intentional touching, directly and through the clothing, of the genitalia, without the victim’s permission, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade . . .
The arresting FBI officer’s investigation led to the filing of an affidavit which states in pertinent part:
"On or about December 23, 2014, defendant KARAN SEECHURN was a male employee, on board a cruise ship, which embarked from Bayonne, New Jersey, traveled to the Bahamas, and disembarked in Bayonne, New Jersey on December 27, 2014.
Defendant KARAN SEECHURN was employed by the cruise line and was responsible for re-stocking the minibars located in passengers’ rooms. In order to conduct this duty, he was provided with a key that provided access to passengers’ rooms. On or about December 23, 2014, KARAN SEECHURN used this key to access passengers’ rooms when he was not authorized or permitted to do so.
On or about December 23, 2014, a female passenger (the “Victim”) was sleeping in her room aboard the cruise ship. While the Victim was asleep, defendant KARAN SEECHURN entered the Victim’s room without her knowledge and permission. The Victim awoke to find one of defendant KARAN SEECHURN’s hands touching her genitalia, she pushed him off her and she tried to leave the room, but he pulled her back and threatened to burn down the cruise ship if she told anyone."
The FBI agent didn’t identify the name of the cruise ship or cruise line. This is often done as a matter of professional courtesy by the FBI so as not to embarrass the cruise lines which often hire former FBI agents to work in the cruise lines’ security department. There are numerous news outlets referring only to an "unidentified" cruise ship.
The only cruise ship calling on the ports at the times identified in the affidavit is Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, the Quantum of the Seas. In addition, a search of the crew member’s name reveals that such a crew member works for Royal Caribbean and is from Mauritius. The Department of Justice’ press release says that the crew member is from Mauritius.
The crew member is scheduled to appear in Newark federal court today.
It’s a dangerous practice to give male cabin attendants or mini-bar attendants a master key to passenger cabins. Prior sexual assaults have occurred on Royal Caribbean ships under similar circumstances.
Royal Caribbean touts the Quantum as the most technological advanced cruise ship on the high seas. It’s too bad that the cruise line didn’t use old school technology and deactivate the master keys and cards to passenger cabins after hours.
December 30, 2014 Update: Many crew members have reacted to this story by blaming the victim and feeling sorry for the alleged assailant. (see comments below and our our Facebook page). They recklessly accuse the victim of lying or tricking the crew member or looking for a lawsuit. These type of outrageous, misogynous comments reflect cultural issues on cruise ships which breed an atmosphere of contempt for women passengers that leads to sexual assaults. The problem is that this dangerous attitude is displayed not just by low level crew members but by the male-dominated managers and supervisors who decide how the victim is treated after the assault and make decisions regarding whether to report the crime to the authorities.
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