Over the last year, our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have discussed a number of incidents in which cruise ship passengers have been the victim of sexual assault or rape at the hands of crew members or other passengers. Several weeks ago, two U.S. men were accused of raping a female passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Sea, which docked in Jamaica.
In February, we discussed an Inside Edition interview with a young woman who claims that she was held down by two crew members in their cabin and raped repeatedly onboard a Carnival cruise and, in April, we talked about sexual abuse allegations against a Disney Cruise Line crew member who has been charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment of a 13-year-old female cruise passenger.
Now, according to an article published in the St. Kitts and Nevis Observer, a Carnival Valor crew member was taken into custody by St. Kitt’s Police and charged with raping a cruise passenger while the ship was in territorial waters of the island. Police have refused to release the alleged offender’s name because the victim is a minor. Upon inquiry, the local police would say nothing other than “someone has been charged for an incident.”
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 According to the review, the reporting requirements of the CVSSA produce outdated statistics on only a fraction of crimes.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.
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.
According to FBI statistics, in 2007, there were 207 criminal incidents reported by the U.S. Coast Guard and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) that year. However, as this blog has mentioned, that number is likely much higher. At the time the report was issued in 2007, there had already been 41 reported instances of sexual assault accounting for 55 percent of the violent crimes that were reported. Further, there were a reported 13 assaults resulting in “serious bodily injury.”
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 Florida cruise ship accident lawyers of Gerson & 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 crimes for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the Florida maritime attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.