The Common Occurrence of Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

Sexual assaults on cruises are, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. The facts are quite scary. One major cruise line recently indicated that there were 173 sexual assaults or rapes reported on their ships during a five-year period. To make matters worse, none of these 173 reports were ever prosecuted. A different major cruise line reported that there are two rapes or sexual assaults per month on each of its cruise ships. Just recently, off the coast of Florida, a cruise line’s steward was charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy in a cruise ship shower. The steward was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual battery of a person less than 16 years of age. Investigators maintain that the steward saw the young boy in a ship sauna. The two started talking as they used the facility. To get away from the steward, the boy left the sauna and went to the showers; yet, the steward followed and engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct. 

The Lawsuit

If you wish to file a lawsuit against a cruise line, there are some important rules that you must be aware of. For one, cruise ship tickets that you initially purchase normally have a “forum selection clause” and a “choice of law clause.” These clauses are often printed on the back of the ticket in small font. These clauses specifically indicate in which state the passenger may sue the cruise line, as well as the law that will apply in his or her case. You should strictly adhere to the rules listed on your ticket. Failure to do so may ultimately have your case dismissed. If the cruise ticket has you filing the case in Florida, with Florida law applying, the following rules of law may apply to your situation.       

Sex Offenses

If your cruise ticket requires you to file in Florida courts and to abide by Florida law, the following rules of law may control your case. Sexual battery and rape are synonymous in Florida. Florida law holds that they occur when a person (“Defendant”) compels another person (“Victim”) to engage in sexual intercourse against his or her will. This also occurs when the Victim is mentally incapable of consenting to sex, such as when he or she is highly intoxicated or when he or she is too young to consent.     

On the other hand, Florida law maintains lewd or lascivious molestation occurs when the Defendant intentionally touches the buttocks, genitals, or breasts of a child less than 16 years of age in a lewd or lascivious manner. This crime also occurs when the Defendant forces, encourages, or entices a child below the age of 16 to touch another person in a lewd or lascivious manner. Lewd and Lascivious both mean an unchaste, lustful, wicked, licentious, or sensual intent on the part of a person acting. Florida law holds that lewd or lascivious molestation is a strict liability crime. Florida labels this as a strict liability crime as a way of counteracting common defenses such as, “I reasonably believed the child was of age,” or “the child consented to have sex.”          

Hire an Attorney for Your Case

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a crime on a cruise ship, contact the maritime lawyers of Gerson & Schwartz PA. Our law office specializes in representing crime victims at sea. At Gerson & Schwartz, PA all of our lawyers are licensed to practice law in all Florida state and federal courts. We provide aggressive quality legal representation. Contact us today for a FREE consultation. Se Habla Espanol.

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