Last week, Inside Edition, published an interview with a young woman who claims that she was raped while aboard a Carnival cruise ship last year. According to 28-year-old Tristin, who asked that her last name not be disclosed, she was held her down by two crew members in their cabin and raped repeatedly. Our cruise ship attorneys in Florida have been watching this case closely for additional details to emerge.
Following the incident, Tristin reported the attack to ship security, prompting a breathalyzer test of the involved crew members. Tristin admitted to drinking that evening, but, contrary to the claims of the alleged attackers, the sex was not consensual. Tristin has filed a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines, but Carnival is denying any wrongdoing and criminal charges have not been levied against the crew members.
Carnival issued the following statement with regard to the assault:
“We took immediate and comprehensive action to carefully preserve and gather evidence, support the alleged victim, and detain the alleged perpetrators. We promptly reported the matter to multiple law enforcement authorities, which ultimately are responsible for investigating and prosecuting alleged crimes. The cruise line took all appropriate measures to aid and support the law enforcement process in this case. Ultimately, the FBI chose not to prosecute.”
Preventing and controlling crime on board ships is one of the biggest problems that the cruise ship industry faces. Every year, dozens of cruise ship passengers fall victim to physical and sexual assaults onboard cruise ships at the hands of crew members and other passengers.
Last year, this blog discussed an assault on a 14-year-old passenger aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination by a security guard. According to the victim of the alleged assault, the guard chased him into a stairwell and slammed him into a wall after witnessing the teen try to sneak into the ship’s nightclub. In July of last year, a 19-year-old man from Kentucky was charged with raping an 18-year-old aboard the Carnival Dream. These are just a couple of the dozens of crimes that are committed against cruise passengers each year.
Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), conducted a review of compliance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, reporting that it had concerns about the usefulness the Act’s crime-reporting requirements. According to the review, the reporting requirements of the CVSSA produce outdated statistics on only a fraction of crimes.
The CVSSA requires cruise lines to report crimes falling into eight categories to the FBI: homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, sexual assault, firing or tampering with vessels, and theft greater than $10,000. According to the GAO, crime statistics are published by the Coast Guard on its website only after the investigations are closed. This means that, between January of 2010 and September of 2013, only 81 of 287 required crime reports were made public.
Cruise companies have a duty to provide a safe environment for their passengers and the failure to do so may entitle the injured party to compensation. The Miami maritime law firm of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship, marine, or injury at sea accident, contact a Miami, Florida personal injury lawyer at Gerson and Schwartz, PA today.