Cruises Are Potential Hot Spots for Sexual Assault

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Cruises often boast that they will provide an amazing and unforgettable experience for all, and many of them offer passengers a chance to explore the world in one of the most convenient ways thanks to gourmet food, gambling, shopping, entertainment, and even a spa. Unfortunately, sexual assault claims from adults and minors have revealed that serious crime can also be onboard. A year ago, NBC aired a special report revealing that one-third of these cases involve minors. Daily News reports that 62 of 92 crimes in 2016 were sexual assaults.

There are cases where the perpetrator has been a fellow guest on the cruise, but sometimes they have even been staff. There has been at least one case where the sexual predator was actually a cruise security guard, according to a Miami attorney. Another time, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly molested by her physical trainer, but since there was no way to prove his explicitly inappropriate touching, he was never punished. It doesn’t help that cruises don’t have a solid vetting process with thorough background checks for any of their employees. There are certificates that they currently require for proof of a clean record, but they are not ironclad.

A Recent Case

In January 2016, aboard a Carnival Conquest Cruise, a 12-year-old girl from Utah was coerced by 18-year-old Joshua Kenova of West Virginia. An FBI investigation determined that he took her into the men’s bathroom below the teen club and made her perform oral sex and then forced intercourse in such a way that she was left with physical injuries. Apparently, he even told the young girl that sex with someone her age was nothing new to him because he has had sex with girls younger than her. He threatened her not to tell authorities. Thankfully, she did anyway. First she told a church official after they got back home, and eventually, she also told her mother, who then filed a criminal complaint.

When he was interrogated by the FBI, he told them that it was all her idea to begin with. This time, the FBI was able to find evidence and, finally, the assailant admitted fault. Currently, he is waiting to be sentenced in October by the Charleston federal court. His max sentence is 15 years.  

Trauma Versus Need for Evidence

It is important to note that many victims of sexual assault struggle a great deal with shame, fear, and self-blame for their victimization. It is common for many survivors of sexual assault to wait years before they are able to work up the nerve to face the severe trauma that they experienced. Unfortunately, this makes cases like these difficult to prove because of a lack of biological evidence as well as the usually secretive nature of the offense, and the perpetrator almost always denies the incident or blames the victim.

What You Can Do About Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

Prevent: A cruise is a special vacation, but with this very real threat of sexual assault and molestation, parents really must be responsible and keep an eye on their children. There are serious dangers in these floating cities, so when kids run off to have fun, parents should treat it as though they are running out alone into a crowded city on land. Communication is key and it is crucial to know the whereabouts of our kids. A United States attorney lamented,“To have a child victimized in this way is unimaginable period. But to think it would happen while on a family vacation is even worse.”  

Prosecute: In general, when sexual assault occurs, it is worthwhile to file a report with the police even if you are unsure that justice will rightfully be served. State laws will still apply, even though you are at sea. Without a doubt, a  dedicated, experienced, and strong lawyer can be essential to help you navigate the system and the many ins and outs that pertain to a case like this. Keep in mind, too, there are deadlines when reporting, and they differ from state to state.

Things are similar, but different, regarding the prosecution of sexual assault on a cruise. The following steps should help shed some light on the important steps to take

  1. Report. You can initially report to the cruise security, but also make sure to report this to the FBI. It is in your best interest if you can talk to them yourself instead of letting anyone do this for you. Keep in mind that from the moment that you talk to them, whatever you say can be held against you in your case.
  2. Seek Medical Care and Collect Evidence. Even if you feel you are not hurt bad enough, this step is extremely important. The ship has a medical center, and that is where you need to go to directly after the incident so that all evidence can be collected. It can feel even more traumatizing to have to stay in this condition rather than running to a shower and getting away from everyone, but please know that this step can be the most crucial piece that helps you convict the person that assaulted you. Usually, the nurse will take photos, but you can never take too many, so don’t hesitate to take more if you or a caring party are able to. This is also where you can get the initial medical care that you need, but it is highly recommended that you go to the local rape treatment center once the cruise disembarks as well. This is the place where you are likely going to find psychological support along with other help regarding how you can recover.  
  3. Gather Vital Information. whatever information you can regarding who attacked you and who saw it happen. Witnesses are usually very willing to share their contact information.

A sensitive lawyer can help you to determine the best way for you to execute those options. Things can get confusing rather quickly, but they may even be able to help your case to be heard faster, too.

You could sue the cruise for safety violations by finding a maritime lawyer and you can seek personal justice by finding a personal injury lawyer. Otherwise, a sexual abuse case is typically taken to criminal court by the state or federal government so that the government entity is against the assailant, but that particular case does not offer any kind of compensation for the person that has been victimized.–year-old-on/article_392cda95-c5df-59a9-9ca2-24a14fa7063b.html