Disney Cruise line is the cruise line currently making headlines. A very disturbing story has been reported involving a sexual molestation of an 11 year old girl aboard the Disney Cruise ship, the Disney Dream, while in a Florida port. The disturbing news is that the incident was caught on a surveillance video and reported to the cruise ship company. Despite this, the ship sailed without reporting the incident to United States authorities. The cruise line waited to report the incident until the cruise ship arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, where the cruise ship is registered. A local 6 investigation out of Orlando, Florida reports that the incident was not reported until the following day, long after the ship had left the Florida port, suggesting that the cruise line intentionally allowed the 33 year old crewmember (suspect) to avoid any investigation and potential prosecution by United States authorities.
To further illustrate the disturbing actions of the cruise line, the story by the local 6 investigation team states that Disney first stated they did report the incident while the ship was still in port on August 5th. However, after they were confronted by local 6 and the Port Canaveral police, which established that they did not in fact report the incident while the ship was still in Florida, the cruise line then recounted on its story. The cruise line than admitted the incident was not reported. The story than changed, and Disney originally claimed their employees were not aware of the incident until the following day. Disney’s next explanation was that what was reported to them was that the 11 year old had something happen to her to make her feel “uncomfortable”, and therefore they were unaware that an actual crime had been committed.
Again, surveillance video and a confidential Disney Line security incident report obtained by local 6 suggests that this story is also false, according to the local 6 story.
Is this another instance of a cruise line trying to cover up a crime that occurred onboard their cruise ship? It surely appears that way.
This is why there has been movements to enact legislation setting forth strict reporting requirements of crimes onboard cruise ships, and giving these laws teeth by imposing fines and penalties for failure to comply with such laws. This is critical.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed by President Obama to create mandatory requirements as to reporting of crimes. The cruise line industry appears to have caused some last minute changes to the language of the act to give them an additional loophole with respect to the disclosure to the public of criminal activity onboard cruise ships. This is currently being addressed, including by the International Cruise Victims Association.
Sexual assaults of minors are a concern to parents who take their children on a cruise ship. Everyone must be aware that they do occur, and take necessary steps to make sure their children are protected during a cruise. Any incidents must be promptly reported, and U.S. authorities should be immediately contacted when a crime occurs. Do not let a cruise ship company discourage you from personally reporting a criminal act directly to the authorities. In fact, the cruise line should provide you the necessary information to make sure that you can in fact personally contact the appropriate United States authorities to report a crime.
We will keep you posted on further developments regarding this incident.
The story reported by WKMG Local 6 out of Orlando is interesting reading regarding this matter and provides more details.
Our Miami Maritime law firm continues to act as safety advocates for crewmembers and passengers.