Negligent Cruise Ship Security and Sexual Assaults

Cruise ships are supposed to be one of the safest ways to travel. All potential employees are pre-screened before they can begin working. The US government passed the Cruise Ship Safety and Security Act in 2010 in order to better regulate and handle crime aboard ocean liners. In spite of these precautions, though, we still hear about crime on board cruise ships every year.

One of the worst crimes that can occur on a cruise is sexual assault. Statistically, sexual assault on cruise ships is not that common: according to FBI statistics, there were 156 reports of sexual assault on cruises between January 2010 and September 2013. However, it is unacceptable for there to be any incidents of sexual assault on cruises. Passengers and crew members alike should be able to feel safe while aboard ocean liners—they should not have to worry about bodily harm.

When sexual assaults do occur on cruise ships, the perpetrators should be held accountable to the extent that the law allows in order to prevent them from causing harm to anyone else. However, in some cases, we may also need to hold the cruise line partially responsible. Some situations where the cruise line may be held accountable include:

  • Failing to screen an employee with a previous criminal record
  • Creating an environment where sexual assault could occur, such as a corridor or public restroom where the lights have burnt out
  • Failing to repair a broken door lock that allowed an aggressor to enter a victim’s room
  • Failing to provide appropriate medical care to a victim of sexual assault
  • Failing to take the claim of a victim of sexual assault seriously

Recent Cruise Line Sexual Assault Cases

When all you hear about cruise line sexual assault cases are the numbers, it might not sound like such a big problem. However, some of the individual stories that have come out in recent years have revealed just how bad these incidents can be when they do occur.

Recently, it was reported that a Holland America crew member attacked a ship passenger after he took offense to something she said. He snuck into her room using his master key while he was off-duty and waited for her to return. When she got into bed, he raped her, then choked and punched her numerous times, even using a laptop and curling iron to strike her. The woman attempted to fight him off, and at one point he almost threw her off a balcony. Finally, the woman was able to fight her attacker off and run for help. Her attacker now faces charges for aggravated sexual assault and attempted murder, and he is being held without bond in the Broward County Jail.

Other tragic attacks reported to have occurred in recent years include:

  • Two Carnival crew members allegedly holding down a 28-year-old passenger and raping her repeatedly. The woman reports that during the attack, she was terrified the crew members would throw her overboard and no one would ever find her. She is now suing Carnival Cruise Lines.
  • A 30-year-old male passenger allegedly groping a 12-year-old female passenger near the pool of the Celebrity Century. The incident was reported to ship security, but the crew did not detain the alleged attacker.
  • A chief security officer and assistant security officer allegedly raping a 32-year-old female security officer aboard the Costa Classica. The victim says that her attackers called her into the security office, where they were drinking heavily. She says that they made inappropriate advances and later overpowered her.
  • An Arizona man accused of plying a 15-year-old boy with alcohol and sexually assaulting him on the Mariner of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship. The boy reported the attack to a crew member, who contacted the FBI. When the ship docked, the attacker was taken into federal custody.

The above cases were publicly reported incidents or incidents reported to the FBI between 2009-2012. A complete listing of all reported sexual assault cases for this period can be found here.

The Long-Term Effects of Sexual Assault

Obviously, sexual assault can cause serious physical harm, but it can also have a long-lasting and detrimental psychological impact on its survivors. Some common effects of sexual assault include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Survivors may re-experience their attack in the form of flashbacks or frightening thoughts, avoid situations that remind them of their trauma, and have difficulty concentrating or trouble sleeping.
  • Depression: Survivors may experience prolonged periods of sadness, weight changes, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed, and/or suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse: A survivor may use drugs or alcohol to cope with their emotional suffering.
  • Self-harm: A survivor may turn to self-inflicted harm such as cutting, burning, or biting to cope with their emotional suffering.

There is no way that monetary compensation can undo the effects of a sexual assault on board a cruise ship, but it can provide survivors with the means to afford the best medical and psychological treatment available.

Protect Yourself and Others: Fight Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

Speaking out against sexual assault can be incredibly hard to do, especially if survivors are experiencing some of the psychological effects described above, but it’s important to hold both individual attackers and negligent cruise lines accountable so that this type of thing does not happen to anyone else.

If you or someone you love was sexually assaulted on a cruise, you should contact the Winston Law Firm in order to retain a cruise ship accident attorney who has experience with similar cases. We offer free consultations with no obligation, and we won’t charge you a dime until we have recovered compensation. Remember, the sooner you speak out the better: cruise ship accidents have a statute of limitations, and if you don’t make your case in time, there’s little you can do to hold a cruise line responsible for their negligence.

You can call us by calling us at 954-606-6606 in South Florida, or toll-free at 866-306-9606, if you are anywhere in the county i For your convenience, you can also reach us by filling out a short online case review form.