A cruise passenger is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl during an eastern Caribbean cruise, according to a newspaper in West Virginia where the young man resides.
U.S. Federal prosecutors reportedly filed a motion for a guilty plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston, West Virginia yesterday. Judge Joseph Goodwin scheduled the motion for hearing on Monday, July 16 at 10 a.m.
If convicted, Mr. Morrison faces up to 15 years in prison. The newspaper articles state that he is being prosecuted via a criminal information rather than a grand jury indictment, “which usually indicates a suspect plans to enter a guilty plea.”
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Joshua Morrison, of Kenova, West Virginia, who was 18 years old a the time of the cruise and is now age 21, is accused of coercing a girl from Utah, then just age 12 years old, into performing sexual acts while the two were on a cruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. The alleged crime reportedly occurred during the cruise on January 8, 2016, when he was 18 years old.
According to the criminal complaint, Morrison reportedly instructed the young girl to perform oral sex on him and eventually forced her into having intercourse. The girl reported suffered physical injuries as a result of the encounter.
The newspaper states that the child was able to remember the first name and first initial of the last name of the suspect, and that he was from West Virginia. The girl’s mother reported the alleged crime to authorities about a year after it occurred. The newspaper states that:
“The criminal complaint states the suspect was aware of the girl’s age, even telling her he had experience with women below the age of consent. The alleged assault took place in a bathroom aboard the ship. After the incident, Morrison told the girl not to tell anyone, because he could go to jail. He also threatened the victim that he would find her if she did alert the authorities . . ”
The criminal complaint (see below) filed in federal court in West Virginia alleges that Mr. Morrison violated 18 U.S.C. 2243(2) involving sexual abuse of a minor, and was verified by a FBI agent. The crime occurred on the Carnival cruise ship on the last night of the six day cruise. The incident occurred in the men’s bathroom located below the teen club on the cruise ship.
According to the complaint, Mr. Morrison pressured the child who said “no” or “I don’t know” when he asked her to have sex. Mr. Morrison told the girl that she was not the first 12 year old that he had sex with. She “felt pressured to do something with him and did not feel like she would be able to leave the restroom without engaging in sexual activity . . . ” But he reportedly blamed the child to the FBI agent, saying: “it was her idea and I was stupid enough to go along with it. . . she did not look that much younger, but the braces gave it away . . . she was just a little kid . . .”
Like many child victims, she told her mother about the incident only after the cruise (about a year after it occurred), after first disclosing the sexual abuse to a church official. The mother then notified the FBI.
Last summer, NBC aired a special on sexual assaults on cruise ships. Approximately one-third of sexual crimes during cruises are committed against children. The crimes are perpetrated by both crew members and other passengers alike. Parents should be on heightened alert for pedophiles and perverts during cruises and should not assume that their children are safe because they are on a cruise ship.
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July 16, 2018 Update: Man pleads guilty to sexual abuse in cruise ship incident. “Morrison admitted that the sexual abuse took place on board a cruise ship in international waters on or about midnight on Jan. 9, 2016. He admitted that he was 18 years old at the time, the minor was 12 years old at the time, and he knew the minor’s age.”
Photo credit: Busted newspaper.