Unfortunately, sexual assaults happen onboard cruise ships much more often than one would expect. Our passenger cruise ship claims firm has handled numerous sexual assault cases involving sexual assault by a crew member on a passenger. Sadly, several of the cases have involved minors. Most of the time the rape or sexual assault onboard a cruise ship has gone with any conviction of the perpetrator of the crime. This has been due to a number of factors, mainly the lack of prompt reporting and investigation by the cruise line, as well as the complexities of jurisdiction over such crimes when they occur onboard a cruise ship. The cruise ships are registered in foreign countries, and most of the crimes happen in international waters and are committed by a foreign resident and citizen.
Recently, congress passed legislation to hopefully deal with many of the problems faced by United States passengers who are the victim of a sexual assault or rape onboard a cruise ship. This legislation includes reporting and investigation requirements, and clarifies some of the jurisdictional issues that got in the way previously of there being an adequate investigation performed.
However, in the particular case which we are reporting here, a bartender onboard the Carnival Freedom was identified as the assailant, who took a fourteen year old into a restricted area onboard the ship and had sex with her. The FBI was contacted and the assailant was taken into custody. The cruise ship employee pled guilt to a count of sexual abuse of a minor. The crew member was sentenced to jail plus has to pay $4,360 as restitution.
The incident again reminds the public that these types of incidents do happen on cruise ships and must be aware of this. The public imaged portrayed by the cruise lines has always been that a cruise is a carefree, no problem type of vacation, the love boat comes to the mind of most people. The “fun ship” is what carnival refers to about their ships. This causes people to let their guard down when on a cruise. It is important to be aware, and to carefully discuss these issues with your children when going onboard a cruise ship.