Last December, a Honduran man was arrested after allegedly fondling an 11-year-old girl aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship. The ship disembarked from Port Miami for a weekend long cruise. While aboard the ship, the girl told her parents that the man, 31-year-old Palma Ortega, had fondled her three times. If you or someone you love was the victim of sexual assault on a cruise ship, consider contacting a Miami Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Attorney.
Miami-Dade police are charging Ortega with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor, and he is being held without bond. Upon detention, Ortega confessed to the crime. In the state of Florida, the lewd or lascivious molestation of a child under 12 is a felony punishable by 25 years to life in prison. The man is also on an immigration hold and may be subject to deportation.
It is not clear yet whether or not Ortega was a crewmember of the Disney cruise line, but regardless, the cruise ship company does not have the best track record of responding to sexual assaults by their crew members. In 2013, a similar event took place, where an 11-year-old girl was groped by a dining room employee on the Disney Dream cruise ship while the ship was docked at Port Canaveral. Local police could not arrest the man because Disney did not report the assault until the next day. Instead of receiving justice, the man was sent back to his home country of India.
Premise Liability Claims on Cruise Ships
The victim’s parents have a right to sue Disney Cruise Lines if the perpetrator was a crew member or if inadequate security led to the assault.
In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. The law requires cruise ship administrators to report all instances of sexual assaults and other violent crimes and implement safety measures to prevent these occurrences from happening. Now cruise ships are required to maintain video surveillance and keep rape kits onboard. Before this law, cruise ships could prevent police from accessing their ships for investigations and at times protected their crew members from punishments for their crimes.
Florida is the only state that allows jurisdiction for state police over sexual assaults that occur in international waters. State prosecutors also have the power to charge any passenger or crew member that commit these crimes. Other states usually have to defer the investigation to the FBI.
Contact a Miami Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Lawyer Today
If you or someone you loved was the victim of a sexual assault or rape aboard a cruise ship, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. At Gerson & Schwartz P.A. we have extensive experience going toe to toe with all the major cruise line companies and have an excellent track record of receiving favorable settlements. All our cases are conducted on a contingent fee so there are no attorney’s fees unless we recover money on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.