The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) announced yesterday that a grand jury indicted a man  from Jacksonville, Florida for aggravated sexual abuse by force of a young woman on Carnival cruise ship. The FBI announced the news via a press release.

The indictment arises out of a incident which occurred on February 27, 2018 on the Carnival Elation when a 23 year old man  reportedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman with special needs during a cruise to the Bahamas. The incident occurred in a hot tub aboard the Carnival cruise ship.

According to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), cruise lines are required to report Carnival Elationcrimes to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Last year, 35 passengers and crew members reported being victims of sexual sexual attacks on Carnival Cruise Line ships, for an an average of three a month.

The FBI identified Brian Holland as the assailant.

The FBI earlier released a statement about the incident, saying: 

. . . agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation were notified by the security department of the Carnival Cruise Line vessel Elation that a passenger onboard the ship had been involved in an incident of sexual abuse on February 27, 2018. The victim stated that she was in the Jacuzzi with Holland on the cruise ship when he kept attempting to put his arm around her and she attempted to move further away from him. Holland then tried to put his hand on her shoulder and pull her back toward him. The victim stated that Holland touched her on her genitals over her bathing suit and then under her bathing suit, digitally penetrating her by force. The victim left the Jacuzzi and immediately reported what happened to family, who then reported it to ship security. The victim was examined by medical personnel on the ship, who found abrasions on her genitals consisted with digital penetration by force.

The FBI states that Mr. Holland faces  a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a potential lifetime of supervision.

Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: WFTS ABC News

According to multiple news sources, the FBI is investigating the death of a 39-year-old woman from Utah aboard the Emerald Princess operated by Princess Cruises in Alaska.

The woman reportedly died aboard he Princess cruise ship after a "domestic dispute" leading to her "suspicious" death.

The cruise ship was diverted to Juneau, Alaska because of the criminal investigation, according to ABC News.

The FBI has special maritine jurisdiction to investigate crime at sea whenever a U.S. citizen is a victim or the assailant. 

July 27, 2017 Update: TIME magazine reports that the the U.S. attorney’s office will hold a news conference later today with representatives of the FBI and Coast Guard in Anchorage to announce the filing of federal criminal charges against the suspect arrested yesterday by the FBI.

Jully 29, 2017 Update: CBS News Couple in Alaska cruise ship murder seemed like "perfect American family."

 Credits: photo KTVA. 

  

Jim Walker Cruise Law Sexual AssaultLast night, NBC Nightly News aired part 2 of its investigation into sexual assaults on cruise ships.

NBC interviewed me during the investigation. We have handled over 100 cases of sexual assault; approximately one third of the victims have been children. This is essentially the assault rate of minors that experts testified to during prior Congressional hearings.  

The common comment we hear is that parents need to supervise their children while on cruises. This may be true, but sexual assaults can take place even when the most attentive parents are involved. Children have been assaulted during cruises in shipboard childcare facilities as well as in their cabins by cabin attendants who meet the children and their family members during the cruise.

Another common scenario is older passengers who have access to alcohol and target underage girls during the cruise.

When an assault occurs, the FBI routinely does not follow up with their initial investigation and interview of the victim. Prosecutions of shipboard predators by the U.S. Department of Justice are rare.   

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: NBC Nightly News  

Enchantmemt of the Seas Cruise Ship MurderLast night I received an email from a person who follows cruising who received information that there may have been what is being described as a "murder / suicide" on an unidentified Royal Caribbean cruise ship. There was a vague posting of the alleged incident on the Disney boards

This morning I received another email from a passenger who just disembarked the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship.  The person’s email is as follows:

"Just got off Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas. They were detaining everyone on the 7Th floor and the police were there collecting statements. The crew wouldn’t say what was going on but other passengers said there was a murder/death on the 7th fl. Post if you hear anything about it."

My understanding is that the Enchantment OTS is moored in Baltimore at the moment.  

Enchantment of the Seas Cabin 7110If you have any information about this alleged incident, please leave a message or post a comment on our Facebook page.

Update March 25 2013:  I received the following information this morning from a person who wishes to remain anonymous:

The deceased person is reportedly a woman in her 60’s who allegedly was found on the floor by her husband.    

She reportedly had fallen inside the cabin earlier the same evening and hit her head and went to bathroom where she fell again this is when husband called for help. Nurses arrived to the cabin to attend the situation however she was pronounced dead at 5 AM.

(Please note that I cannot verify any of this information or any comments below). 

The cabin was thereafter sealed at some point until arrival into port where investigations will begin.

We were also provided with a copy of a photo of the door of the cabin in question which shows a plexi-glass cover over the key hole and key card slot with a lock around the handle.  

The FBI has told news stations in Baltimore that there are "suspicious undertones" surrounding the death.

A local CBS news station in Baltimore aired a short video on the investigation.

March 28, 2013 Update: The AP is reporting that an "autopsy shows that a Virginia woman found dead aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship died of natural causes.

FBI spokesman Rich Wolf has identified the woman as 64-year-old Katherine Kennedy, of Midlothian, Va. He says Kennedy died of heart disease.

Her husband found her dead Sunday in her cabin on the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship. FBI agents met the ship when it arrived in Baltimore on Monday to begin investigating the unexplained death.

Wolf says Kennedy also had a laceration on her forehead, but authorities determined that she got the cut when she fell down. They said it had nothing to do with her death."

Photo Credit:

Top: Rageousgtx at en.wikipedia

Bottom: Anonymous

Journalist Robert Anglen has an article today in the Arizona Republic entitled "Stats Don’t Fully Account For All Cruise-Ship Crime."  The article was also published in USA TODAY and discusses the false and misleading cruise ship crimes statistics in the FBI database which mentions only 2 cruise ship crimes for the second quarter of this year. 

You will recall that the cruise lines were suppose to be required to report the hundreds of crimes which occur each year, pursuant to the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Law.  But the language of the new law was altered at the last minute to permit the cruise lines to cover the crimes up.  Lawmakers said the FBI demanded the alterations to benefit the cruise lines.  There is no doubt that the cruise lines and Bogus FBI Cruise Ship Crime Statisticstheir trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), were behind the last minute shenanigans.

Mr. Anglen wrote an article earlier this year (in June) entitled "Law Shields Industry On Cruise-Ship Crime Information" which exposed the manipulation of the law which was originally designed to require greater transparency from the cruise industry.  The public was suppose to be able to access an accurate public database with all of the crime allegations available. But the behind-the-scenes alteration of the law has resulted in an unprecedented concealment of crimes by the cruise lines with the full cooperation and assistance by the FBI.

Is it just a coincidence that many of the top security personnel at the cruise lines today used to be senior FBI officials?  The FBI has an open dialogue with the cruise lines but routinely keeps the victims in the dark.

This cozy relationship between the FBI and the cruise lines is a great disservice to the cruising public.

The article mentions Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims organization. 

Mr. Anglen’s article also quotes me referring to the FBI database as "bogus" and only 2 crimes in the last quarter as "lies." These comments were from from a blog I wrote in August – "Lies, Lies & Lies – FBI & Cruise Industry Continue to Publish Bogus Cruise Crimes Statistics."

The cruise lines must be chuckling after thumbing their collective nose at the legislative process. They have proven that foreign off-shore industries can easily circumvent the U.S. democratic process, as long as they have friends in high places.  

 

Photo credit: FBI

A local news station in Houston, Texas reports that there are problems with the manner that crimes on cruise ships are reported and investigated by the FBI.

KRPC Channel 2 in Houston aired a program yesterday that reported on the rape of a 56 year old Texas woman on at the last night of a cruise out of the port of Houston (Galveston).  Like most rape cases on cruises, the FBI did not make an arrest.

The investigation by the news station revealed that the FBI disclosed that it investigated only 16 crimes all of last year.  But the crime numbers "just don’t add up," according to the news station. (We know that this is a bogus number of crimes because in years past, there has been testimony before Congress tCarnival Cruise Ship - Rape - Sexual Assaulthat hundreds of crimes occur each year during cruises).  

The interesting thing revealed in this report was that the Port of Houston alone had 15 crimes reported just out of its port, so clearly the FBI’s data of 16 cruise crimes for all cruises nationally is grossly understated.

This particular case involved an allegation that a cruise line employee (waiter) committed the rape.  In our experience most shipboard rapes are committed by cruise employees with waiters, as well as cabin attendants and bartenders, the most likely ones to rape a passenger.

Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") organization was interviewed during the program and stated: "True and accurate crime data needs to be available and released to the public . . .  it is the cornerstone of accountability and safety for millions of Americans who chose to cruise each year."

But the cruise industry’s organization that promotes cruising, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), says that everything’s just fine. CLIA responded to the program by claiming that cruise lines have been reporting crimes pursuant to a law passed in 1996.  This is a false statement as the first law requiring the reporting of crimes during cruises was not passed until 2010.  But due to intense lobbying, the law was altered and permits the cruise lines to hide crimes unless the crimes were first reported to the FBI and then closed by the FBI.  

The wording of the law permits over 95% of cruise ship crimes to remain secret – just like the cruise lines want.  

Cruise lines have been hiding true crime statistics for decades. You will see more and more of these types of stories in the future.

To watch the video, click on the link here.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The L.A. Times is the latest major newspaper to discuss the behind-the-scenes alteration of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.  

In Drop in Cruise Ships’ Reported Crimes Raises Questions written by Dan Weikel and an accompanying editorial Cruise ship crimes: Why so hush-hush? by Paul Morrison, the L.A. Times takes a look at the reporting of cruise ship crimes after the new cruise safety law came into effect. 

Designed to require greater transparency from the cruise lines in reporting shipboard crimes, the new cruise safety law was watered down to require the disclosure of only those alleged crimes which the cruise lines reported to the FBI and the FBI then closed.

This altered language was designed to cover up the majority of crimes on cruise ships.  Before the new Cruise Ship Crime Lawcruise safety law came into effect, the FBI was known for its disinterest in investigating crimes on cruise Cruise Ship Crime - Cruise Crime Lawships. For those few crimes it investigated, the FBI solved few of them.  It also seemed to never close their files even when in truth it was not doing anything to investigate the crimes.  By altering the language of the law, the cruise lines knew that it would keep the actual number of crimes under wraps.

The cruise lines deny that they were involved in the cover-up.  And so far Congressman Kerry’s office (who was instrumental in passing the new law) is pointing to the FBI and Coast Guard as requesting the change.  Here’s what the L.A. Times is saying:

"The FBI and the Coast Guard had asked Congress for wording that means, under the law, that the public only is allowed to be told about the number of closed cases that are no longer being investigated.

That’s just about 180 degrees opposite what law enforcement agencies do on land: All reported crimes are public record, not just those under investigation or resolved.

See how insidious such a policy can be?

If we heard only about the LAPD’s closed cases, nobody would have heard of the Black Dahlia, and the recent murders of two USC graduate students from China might not be public knowledge. Women in South L.A. wouldn’t have been told to be on alert for the "Teardrop Rapist," who has raped nearly three dozen women in the course of about 15 years, one as recently as last month.

This kind of result is hardly what a law called the "Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act" sounds like it was meant to achieve. Turns out, the security and safety being protected here are the economic security and fiscal safety of cruise lines."

The question at this point is not whether there was a behind-the-scenes cover-up, but who in addition to the FBI and Coast Guard were engaged in the cover-up.  Were the cruise lines and their trade organization, Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), involved?  Of course, but they would never admit it. But why would the FBI alone take such steps, which as the L.A. Times concludes, were designed to protect the "economic security and fiscal safety of cruise lines" and not the passengers victimized on cruise ships?

With an industry known for its secrecy, it will take some time before the ugly truth comes out.  But it eventually will. The public will then see that the cruise lines and their CLIA representatives worked overtime with federal agencies against transparency. For the time being, they were successful in thwarting the democratic process and turning the cruise safety law into a joke. 

FBI Cruise Crime Cover Up - Royal Caribbean - FBI AgentsEvery once in a while a story comes along which blows the lid off of the status quo.

Such a story broke yesterday when Salon Magazine published a blockbuster article "Erasing Cruise Ship Crime." Written by Matthew Harwood, the Salon article tackles the ugly spectacle of our nation’s FBI sabotaging the efforts of a grass roots cruise victims organization.  

The story goes like this. The International Cruise Victims Organization (ICV) labored for the past six years to enact a cruise safety law to require the cruise lines to report the many cruise ship crimes which occur each year.  All of the cruise victims’ stories are compelling – a son or daughter who vanished at sea under mysterious circumstances, a child lost due to gross medical negligence by shipboard doctors, a woman raped at sea – all real tragedies that happened to real people. 

The cruise lines fought tooth and nail against the passage of the ICV supported law, but dropped its opposition at the last minute.  Why?  The fix was in. The FBI altered the language in the cruise crime bill at the last minute. Instead of reporting all crimes (averaging over 400 a year), the cruise ship crimes which are now disclosed on the FBI database average barely one tenth of that figure. As a final indignity, the cruise lines and some travel agents point to the bogus database as proof that cruising is absolutely safe.  

The Salon article points out the fact that cruise lines hire FBI officials to maintain the status quo. The result is that the FBI and its fraternity alumni brothers on the cruise ships all scratch each other’s backs. No one will give their friend a hard time.  No need for anyone to be embarrassed. The cruise lines even invite the FBI to private wine and dinner parties, but exclude the victim’s group.

The truth here is ugly. It involves behind-the-scenes shenanigans by large offshore corporations and a large federal agency.  The secret deals stifle democracy. The editing of Congressional bills by a self-dealing FBI perpetuates a system which rewards the indifference of federal law enforcement officials who are suppose to respond to victim’s horror stories on the high seas but, in truth, are deep in the FBI - Cruise Line Cruise Crime Cover Upcruise lines’ pockets.  It condones and encourages cruise lines to cover up ship crimes whenever and wherever they can, while the FBI looks the other way.

The Salon story hit a nerve. 

The conservative South Florida Business Journal asked whether the Salon article was the "smoking gun" which revealed a cozy relationship between the FBI and the Miami-based cruise lines, particularly Royal Caribbean which hired many FBI agents as well as senior FBI officials.  Is it a coincidence that the cruise lines’ friends at the FBI were the ones who watered the cruise crime bill down?

Many other reporters and bloggers picked up the story and added a sense of outrage to the FBI cover up.        

Jezebel wrote "FBI Works With Cruise Lines to Bury Reports of Rapes at Sea," and added a photo of a huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship (photo top).

Inquisitir published "FBI Involved In Cruise Line Sexual Assault Crime Coverups."

Newser added "FBI Muzzles Cruise Line Rape Cases – Salon Says Bureau Too Cozy with Cruise Line Industry."

Leisure Guy said "Concealing Crime: How the FBI Improves Its Crime Fighting Statistics."

Raw Story reported "Loophole Lets Cruise Ship Rapes Go Unreported."

Grey haired old-school PR experts will tell the cruise lines and FBI not to worry about the bad press because the bloggers are not writing for the major newspapers.  But with the explosion of social media today, no one cares what the AP or Reuters are saying.  Now it’s the Huffington Post types who are spreading the word and influencing public opinion.  

Other stories will follow.  You will see major newspapers and networks come with the next round of stories exposing the FBI cruise crime cover up.

The cruise lines and their trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) will FBI - Cruise Lines Cruise Crime Cover Upeventually respond with their own spin.  CLIA will open the prepared, canned statements: "Crime is rare. Our number 1 priority is the safety of our guests. We reports all allegations of crime to the appropriate law enforcement." But the tide has turned.  The public knows these types of official statements are gobbledygook.  

Truth be told, the FBI, which is suppose to watch over the foreign cruise line corporations and protect the public, has acted like a secret lobbyist for the cruise lines.

Should you trust the cruise lines and a corrupt FBI organization with the most precious cargo carried on cruise ships – your family?

 

Photo credits from the original media sources, top to bottom:

Jezebel, Inquisitir, Salon.

Salon Magazine published a blockbuster article today about how the FBI gutted a cruise safety law designed to protect the cruising public.

The article states that the grassroots International Cruise Victims (ICV) association worked for years with Congress to pass, on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act.  The new cruise law required the FBI to post incidents of cruise ship crimes on an internet database maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

But shortly before the act passed into law, the FBI inserted language which watered the reporting requirements down to the point that the database is worthless.  Before the law passed, each year hundreds of rapes and violent crimes on cruise ships were reported by the cruise lines.  Now, only a handful are reported.  For some quarters, nothing is reported.  

You can see the bogus database here

Was the cruise industry behind the changes to the cruise safety bill?

The article points to the incestuous relationship between the FBI and the cruise lines which hire former FBI officials to maintain a cozy relationship with the FBI.  Although the new cruise safety law was designed to force greater transparency from the cruise lines, the FBI’s manipulation of the bill results International Cruise Victims - ICV - Cruise Crime Lawin just the the opposite result – greater secrecy and opportunity for the cruise lines to cover the crimes up.

The bottom line? The cruising public is kept from reviewing the true crime statistics.  And the cruise lines and some travel agents use the bogus database to advertise that cruising is safe! 

The article quotes ICV CEO Ken Carver, President Jamie Barnett, (photo, in Washington D.C.) and board member (and our client) Laurie Dishman.

Cruise expert Ross Klein, who has testified before Congress several times, is also mentioned.

The article refers to a couple of articles from Cruise Law News as well.

The behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the FBI and its friends frustrated the democratic process and the hard work of the ICV organization.  But one thing is certain, the ICV under the leadership of CEO Carver and President Barnett will keeping working until the original language is back in the cruise safety law.

 

Photo credit:  Ken Carver and Jamie Barnett – by Jim Walker

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship RapeOne of the purposes of the new Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Law is to educate the public regarding the sexual assaults and other crimes which occur on cruise ships.

But as we reported in our article Cruise Lines, FBI & Coast Guard Caught Altering Cruise Crime Law, the FBI and Coast Guard – acting to promote the cruise lines’ interests – undercut the Congressional purpose of the new cruise crime law. The cruise lines and these two federal agencies changed the language of the law to eliminate most cruise ship crimes from being reported.  

Originally all cruise ship crimes were required to be disclosed to the public.  But with the altered language, cruise crimes not reported to the FBI, or those crimes reported to the FBI and still under investigation, do not need to be disclosed to the public. 

You can read about about this issue in the Washington Post, USA TodayArizona Central and NBC Bay Area.

A good example of how the cruise lines are trying to hide crime statistics is a recent case this year involving a young girl raped on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. We reported on the crime in January.  A fifteen year old girl was lured from a teen club and raped by another teenager and a 20 year old man, Luis Scavone (photo left), on the last night of the cruise. The minor promptly reported the crime after she escaped from the rapists’ cabin.

Royal Caribbean allegedly "sealed" off the crime scene and reported the crime to the FBI and the Broward County’s Sheriff’s Office in the cruise ship’s home port. In Florida, local law enforcement also have jurisdiction over crimes on the high seas on cruise ships which return to a port in Florida.    

But rather than preserving evidence of the crime scene, Royal Caribbean unlocked the "sealed" cabin and cleaned the cabin.  It destroyed evidence in the crime scene.  Once the FBI learned of the cruise line’s misconduct, it left the cruise ship and declined to prosecute.

The FBI was willing to let the two rapists (from Brazil) walk free after raping a girl. Even more disturbing is that the evidence destruction occurred on a cruise ship supervised by a former top FBI officer, Gary Bald (photo below left), who now heads Royal Caribbean’s security department.

The FBI agents should have arrested cruise line employees for the destruction of evidence, but the FBI looked the other way and simply closed its investigation. The cozy relationship between the FBI and its former FBI agents, who are now working for the cruise lines, sometimes leads to the former and present FBI agents scratching each other’s backs rather than protecting the public.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Department, on the other hand, was not deterred by the cruise line’s misconduct and arrested the two Brazilians. The State Attorney’s Office for Broward County then prosecuted the two suspects and obtained guilty pleas from both.  The 20 year old Brazilian man pled guilty last week to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in the rape of the girl.  He is now behind bars.   

Royal Caribbean Cruise - Director of Security Gary BaldYou would think that the rape of a child on the world’s largest cruise ship would be documented on the online database maintained by the FBI and Coast Guard.  That was the intent of the cruise crime law. But the FBI decided not to report it. Take a look here at the FBI statistics.  There is not a single report of a sexual assault for Royal Caribbean in 2012. In fact, there is not one report of a violent sexual crime against a cruise passenger for the entire cruise industry this year.

In prior years, the FBI reported over 400 crimes on cruises a year.  But now with the altered language in the cruise crime law, the FBI and cruise lines are concealing crimes. The FBI online database lists only 13 sexual crimes for all of last year.   

The bottom line is that even thought the cruise rapist is in jail after pleading guilty to state prosecutors, the FBI refuses to reveal the crime to the U.S. public on the online database required by the cruise crime law.

There is monkey business going on here.

The FBI and the cruise lines who routinely hire FBI agents are in cahoots. Congress needs to investigate how they derailed the law.  And the U.S. public needs to know how a law designed to protect women and children on cruises has been sabotaged to protect the image of the billion dollar cruise industry.