Several news stations in the U.K. are reporting that the police arrested a former Cunard crewmember on charges that he sexually molested at least one child during a cruise.

Paul Trotter, age 34, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, in the U.K., is alleged to have abused the child between December 20, 2011 and January 5, 2012 while working in the children’s child activities facility on an undisclosed Cunard cruise ship.   His official job title was "children’s activity supervisor" for Cunard.  He was also charged with possessing indecent photographs of children. 

We reported on the fact that the police in England were investigating child molestation on Cunard cruise ships last month in our article:  Did a Cunard Child Predator Molest Children Aboard the QM2 & Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ships?

Queen Mary 2 - Child Molestation?The police in England started the investigation after a parent of one of the abused children tipped the police.   Although the U.K. media is referring to only one abused child at this point, the police have interviewed several families in England, Mr. Trotter worked for five years for Cunard  on Cunard’s flagship, the Queen Mary 2, and its sister cruise ships, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria.

These Cunard cruise ships carried passengers of course from many other countries, including the U.S.

So far, Cunard has not disclosed the incident to the public nor informed families who they should contact for information.

Cunard’s website refers to "Children’s Activities" and assure parents that their kids are safe: " . . . you can be certain that they are in the best of care with our certified Early Years staff . . . " 

Molestation of children by cruise employees is one of the cruise industry’s nastiest secrets.  You can read about the problem in our prior blog articles, including Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children.

February 16, 2012 Update: Did Cunard Child Supervisor Molest Other Children During Cruises?

April 20, 2012 Update:  Trotter Admits He Sexually Abused 13 Boys

Mike and Ann Coriam appeared on CNN International yesterday to discuss the "disappearance" of their daughter, Rebecca Coriam, from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Ms. Coriam worked as a youth counselor aboard the Wonder and went missing six months ago while the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles – Mexico itinerary. 

The Coriam family are campaigning for greater accountability of the foreign flag cruise industry.  Because Disney chose to flag its cruise ship in the Bahamas, only one police officer in Nassau is responsible for investigating Rebecca’s disappearance. 

The Coriam family thanked Victim Support UK which has been providing assistance and emotional support for the family in this time of crisis.  They also thanked Ken Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims, who lost his daughter from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship seven years ago, for his "lots of support and help."

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=UGT_zl1c5SI%3Frel%3D0

The Rebecca Coriam Search Foundation is holding a fundraiser and rally to help raise money to continue the search and investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam.

The rally is being held on July 23, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the Chester Race Course Pavillion. For more information visit the event web page at: A Night for Rebecca Coriam.

Additional information can be found on Rebecca Coriam’s Twitter and Web Page.

Rebecca went missing on March 22, 2011 while working in the youth activity center aboard the M/S Disney Wonder. Cruise Law News (CLN) has previously reported on the disappearance and investigation of Ms. Coriam.

To read more about Rebecca Coriam’s disappearance click on the following:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney’s Wonder Cruise Ship?

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter’s Belongings, But No Answers

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Update on Missing Disney Crewmember Rebecca Coriam

The parents and aunt of missing Disney Cruise Line employee Rebecca Coriam arrived in Los Angeles today from the U.K. seeking information about the young woman’s unexplained disappearance from the Wonder cruise ship.  The video of Mr. and Ms. Coriam from ABC-7 Los Angeles is below.

We have written a number of articles about this situation:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney’s Wonder Cruise Ship?

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Did a Crew Member Go Overboard from the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship?

 

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The local CBS station in Los Angeles is reporting that: 

"Her family said her roommate told them Coriam had called a friend, but Disney representatives were not releasing information regarding the call.  ‘They say they know what the conversation was but they’re not telling us,’ Coriam’s aunt, Trish Davies, told ABC7. They say they’ve got to wait for the investigation.” 

The press in the U.S. and in the U.K. are continuing to cover the story of the disappearance of a Disney Cruise Line youth counselor who apparently went overboard from the Wonder last Tuesday during a 7 day "Mexican Riviera" cruise.  BBC News reports that the parents of Rebecca Coriam flew from the U.K. to be present when the cruise ship returns to Los Angeles.    

We reported on the disappearance on Thursday and yesterday we published our perspective on who investigates disappearances from cruise ships

In our article yesterday, we were very critical of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) for being either disinterested in passenger and crew member deaths or being beholden to the cruise line’s interests.   In 2005, we were involved in one of the highest profile cruise ship disappearances when U.S. passenger George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon with his wife while aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.  We represented Mr. Smith’s wife. 

The BMA was suppose to be involved in the investigation because like the Wonder, the Brilliance is flagged in the Bahamas.  However, the BMA did nothing as far as we could tell.  It appeared to be satisfied with receiving the casualty report from the cruise line speculating that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and may have fallen over the railing, a quick and self-serving conclusion which became questionable once we began our investigation and retained the renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to assist us.  To our knowledge, the BMA did not even prepare a report. 

In this case, it is reported that the BMA sent investigators to Cabo San Lucas yesterday.  Tomorrow the cruise ship will return to Los Angeles where Ms. Coriam’s parents will be waiting.

As we explained yesterday, trusting that the BMA will perform an energetic, fair and impartial investigation, or relying on the transparency and honesty of a foreign flagged cruise line, are naive and inherently risky propositions.  Any family seeking answers under these circumstances should consider retaining their own experienced investigators like Ken Carver, the President of the International Cruise Victims, did following the mysterious disappearance of his daughter during an Alaskan cruise.  

There are a number of issues which the cruise line has already focused on.  it is prudent that certain information be reviewed as soon as possible by someone other than the cruise line or the BMA.  

CCTV:  There should be closed circuit television images of the crew member indicating when she was last seen on the ship.  When a crew member goes overboard, there should be images of the crew member on a deck and walking around the ship.  There should be a review of the location of the CCTV cameras, an inspection of the CCTV / security office and equipment, a review of the diagrams for all CCTV cameras, and a walk-around of the cruise ship from the crew member’s cabin, through all connecting hallways, stairs, and elevators, to the upper decks.   

Locklink reports / C-Pass cards / Telephone print-outs:  All crew members have their "C-Pass" cards swiped by the security guards when they board and exit the cruise ship.  This will establish when the crew member last embarked/disembarked.  Crew members use electronic cards to enter and exit their cabins.  There is a print out (often called lock-link reports) for each cabin, indicating when the doors are opened and who opened the door.  Cruise lines can also print out details of when the cabin telephones were used, and who the calls were made to and from on the ship.  A time line can be created in correlating the information available from the CCTV, C-Pass, lock-link and telephone print-outs.  

Computer / iPhone / Backberry / Android:  The crew members computer and hand-held devices contain information when they were last used and when emails, test messages, skype and social media were used.    

Cabin mate / co-employees / supervisors / employment records:  Cruise lines quickly take statements from the missing crew member’s cabin mates, friends, co-workers, and supervisors for relevant information.  They review the missing employee’s employment records and electronic data.  A security officer will take statements and prepare reports.

As we previously explained, although the cruise line’s public relations department will state they are cooperating with all authorities, the truth of the matter is that they subsequently assert that the results of their own internal investigations are "legally privileged"  and are not to be shared with the missing crew member’s family.  A request for access to the above described information and access to the ship for an inspection and to co-employees for independent questioning should be made promptly. 

If the cruise line resists these reasonable requests, the issue arises whether there is a conflict of interest between the missing crew member’s employer and the surviving family members.

The disappearance of a youth counselor from the Disney Wonder cruise ship this week raises the issue of who is responsible for conducting investigations when crew members disappear at sea.

Disney released the following statement to us yesterday:

"The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter.  We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   Disney also told us that Mexican Navy - Cruise Overboards - Crew Passenger Disappearancesthe cruise line notified the U.S. Coast Guard. 

But what is the reality of who does what in cases like this?  What is the true involvement of the Mexican government, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, and the cruise line in these type of circumstances? 

The Mexican Navy:  Because the incident appears to have occurred off of the coast of Mexico, the Mexican Navy is involved.  Now, some people will say that the "Mexican Navy" conjures up an image of "three men in a row boat."  Such criticism, although disrespectful, may accurately characterize the small scale of the Mexican maritime operations.  When you think of dramatic search and rescue operations, the "Mexican Navy" does not come to mind.  Rather, one would hope that the U.S. Coast Guard, with its quick deployment of cutters, jets and helicopters, is involved.  

Mexico is a country of limited resources.  Its is questionable what motivation Mexico has to expend money and resources searching for a citizen of another country who went overboard from a ship registered registered in the Bahamas.  Once its navy ends its search (which it has probably already done), the country of Mexico will have no further involvement.  

The U.S. Coast Guard:  CNN’s article "Disney Cruise Employee Missing Off Mexico" indicates that while the Mexican navy is leading the search, it asked for the U.S. Coast Guard’s help early in the effort.  The Coast Guard provided long-range search aircraft but was not now actively involved in the search as of yesterday.  The U.S. Coast Guard is an impressive and highly experienced group of men and women, but there is only so much it can do when cruise overboards occur around the FBI - Cruise Disappearances - Passenger Crew Overboardsworld.

The FBI:  CNN’s article contains a revealing quote from a spokesperson from the FBI. "The FBI is not involved because it does not have jurisdiction, as the ship was off the coast of Mexico flying under a foreign flag," said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller of the agency’s Los Angeles office. 

This is a typical comment from the Los Angeles office of the FBI which, unlike the U.S. Coast Guard, is filled with bureaucrats with little motivation to leave their desks and head over to the port when the cruise ship returns to L.A.  The fact of the matter is that the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate incidents which occur on U.S. based cruise ships around the world, especially when a U.S. citizen is involved, even though the ships fly flags of convenience.

The statement of the FBI spokesperson that the FBI has no jurisdiction because the ship was in Mexican waters is preposterous.  Last month, the FBI investigated the murder of a Polish crew member from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship calling on Cozumel which was allegedly committed by a Mexican citizen, even thought the victim was employed on a foreign flagged ship and the crime occurred ashore in Mexico.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority:  Under the Bahamas Merchant Shipping Act 1976, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is supposedly responsible for investigating incidents involving Bahamas-registered ships worldwide.  The BMA has been criticized for being being beholden to large shipping companies like Disney and Royal Caribbean which register their cruise ships there to escape U.S. safety rules and regulations and U.S. taxes.  

Bahamas Maritime Authority - Cruise DisappearancesThe BMA has a deplorable record responding to serious injuries, deaths or crimes involving passengers passengers and crew members on cruise ships flying the Bahamian flag.  Often no real investigation is performed.  Often the "investigation" will consist of a representative or two from the BMA appearing at the next port of call, sometimes working with the cruise line’s defense lawyers or risk management team.  No BMA report concluding malfeasance of the cruise line in a passenger or crew death will ever see the light of day.

If foul play is involved, the BMA will do nothing.  As the BMA concedes on its website, "in fact, reports and documents may not be used as evidence in the event of any subsequent criminal proceedings. If a criminal investigation proves necessary, the entire incident should be investigated by a body independent of the original investigating authority."

So if foul play is involved (and there is no indication of that one way or the other), then who will be involved?  The FBI has already declined to get involved.  No police detectives from Nassau will fly to California to investigate.  No police or sheriff agencies in California (where the vessel is ported) will become involved.  No police agency from Florida (where the cruise line is located) or the United Kingdom (where the cruise line is incorporated) will investigate a disappearance at sea involving a cruise ship sailing between California and Mexico. 

The Cruise Line:  The Wonder cruise ship is operated by the Magical Cruise Company, Limited, d/b/a Disney Cruise Line, which is incorporated in the United Kingdom for tax purposes.  Although Disney is saying that it is speaking with its crew member’s colleagues "to gather as much information as possible," these statements and reports will never become public knowledge and will usually be kept away from the crew member’s family.  Cruises line have exclusive control of the scene of the incident, witnesses, and evidence such as CCTV tapes.  Cruise lines consider their own Disney Cruise Wonder - Passenger Crew Disappearancesinvestigation to be privileged "work product," conducted for the purpose of defending them from potential law suits.  Disney usually hires some of the top maritime defense firms here in Miami to defend their legal interests. 

The Crew Member’s Country: An issue remains of the nationality of the crew member.  Most youth counselors on cruise ships are American, Canadian, or English.  If you are from the U.S. and it was your child who went overboard, who would you want investigating the disappearance?  The FBI or the Bahamas Maritime Authority?   If a Canadian or English citizen is involved, no one from these countries will be actively involved with an investigation. 

The Bottom Line:  Disappearances at sea like this fall into "no man’s land."   The FBI takes the "not my problem" approach.  The flag state’s investigation will end up in a file cabinet in an old building in Nassau.  Disney’s investigation files will never leave the cruise line’s risk management and legal departments.  

According to cruise expert Ross Klein’s website, 157 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last decade.   Many appear to be due to intoxication, negligence, suicide, and sometimes foul play, but many remain unsolved mysteries.  Often there is a delay in reporting the Rebecca Coriam - Disney Crew Member - Chester England disappearances to the authorities and the crew member’s family.  Uncertainly, confusion and a lack of closure are the usual outcomes.   Certainly there must be a better way to investigate disappearances from cruise ships than this.  The families of loved ones lost at sea deserve better.    

 

March 25th Update:  BBC News identifies the crew member as Rebecca Coriam of Chester England.  The BBC article states that England’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been "in touch with the relevant organisations and authorities" and identifies the Bahamas Maritime Authority and Interpol.  

Photo credit:     BBC News

In the past day our office has received numerous requests for information about a woman who apparently went overboard from the Disney Wonder cruise ship two days ago.

There are no reports of this alleged incident in the mainstream press.  This does not necessarily mean anything because the last three cruise line overboard were either not reported in the press at all or the stories were mentioned only in non-U.S. newspapers.

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship OverboardCruise expert Ross Klein’s website contains a short reference to the incident, stating: "From a crew member (unconfirmed):  Two days ago one of the youth activities counselors apparently jumped over board.  It was at 3 am.  They are still searching the ship without any news about her."  

Professor Klein reports that there have been 157 cruise ship overboards in the last decade.

There have been five other cruise ship overboards this year, involving crew members from Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Cruise’s Constellation, Carnival’s Miracle, and Costa’s Atlantica, as well as a passenger from Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

Neither the cruise industry nor the U.S. maintain a list of cruise overboards.  

Disney responded to our request for information indicating that the cruise line reported the incident to the Mexican Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the F.B.I., and the Bahamas Maritime Authority.   Disney sent us the folowing statement: 

“Given the circumstances we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation. The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter. We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   

Consider reading:  Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Do you have information about this latest overboard?  Please leave a comment below. 

 

March 24th Update:  The crew member apparently disappeared off of the coast of Mexico.  The ship is sailing to Cabo San Lucas today.  Here is a video from ABC-7 News (Los Angeles):

  

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The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Officials are searching for a female Disney Wonder cruise ship crew member who has been missing since Tuesday.

We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible," a Disney Cruise Lines statement indicated.

The Disney Wonder, which sailed out from the Port of Los Angeles, has been on a seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

Disney Cruise Lines spokeswoman Rena Langley said the Mexican Navy is conducting the search. The U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI also is assisting. The Bahamian Maritime Authority is investigating the incident.

Langley said the crew member, who has been with the cruise line since 2010, never returned for her scheduled shift. She did not identify the missing woman. It’s unclear if she fell overboard, but Langley said it’s "certainly a possibility."

"Given the circumstances, we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation," Disney officials said.

March 25 Update:  BBC News identified the crew member as Ms. Rebecca Coriam, age 24, from Chester, England.