Sexual Assaults, Molestations and Rapes on Cruises
You hear the stories on the news, watch the documentaries on television, but never think that something so terrible can happen to you. Vacation is a time to relax and have fun. Crimes like sexual assault, molestation, or rape are not things you should have to be concerned about, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, crimes like these happen all too often while aboard cruise ships. Most often, the victim does not know their rights. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a sexual crime while aboard a cruise ship, there may be a civil claim for damages, regardless of the criminal case outcome!
So common, it is scary. The International Cruise Victim (ICV) organization reports that the number one crime reported while aboard cruise ships is sexual assault. It is not difficult to hear or read individual horror stories from cruise rape victims on the internet or through the news. However, finding any hard facts and statistics seems impossible. Obtaining crime reliable data from cruise agencies and investigation agencies is so incredibly difficult. Cruise companies are often registered to other countries, allowing them to take cover under the laws of the governing country, thus causing disturbingly inaccurate reports on crimes. Victims are told that prosecuting the offender is near impossible.
Why is this? This is because the reporting requirements are so loose, cruise companies often have a way to wiggle out of having to assist in prosecuting.
That is where we come in.
The Law Offices of Jason Turchin is here to help you understand that you DO have rights. Even if the cruise company fails you criminally, you have a right to a civil investigation. This means that our office can help you pursue a case against the cruise company civilly and recover damages for your pain and suffering, medical treatment, lost wages, and possibly more.
Contact our office to speak with a Cruise Ship Sexual Assault Attorney for a free consultation at (888) 99-VICTIM.Who Protects the Victims?
Naturally, we want to believe that the government agencies regulating crimes on cruises would be on our side. The laws are written in a manner that at first glance it appears that ALL crimes are being reported to the correct agency, investigated by the correct agencies, and then reported to the public by the FBI. After all, that is what we want to happen.
The 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act states that,
"Passengers on cruise vessels have an inadequate appreciation of their potential vulnerability to a crime while on ocean voyages, and those who may be victimized lack the information to understand their legal rights or to know whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of a crime."
This means that Congress recognizes the frequency of criminal activity on cruise ships and has written this Act to ensure the rights of the victims of crimes on cruises.
The Act also explicitly states that sexual assault crimes were the most investigated crimes while on cruises by the FBI since 2005. Yet, even the Act itself states that the process of investigating and prosecuting is hindered by the conflicting laws of the United States and the countries of registration for cruise lines. The opposing laws facilitates a way out of being involved in bringing justice for the victim.What Does This Act do for the Victims?
This Act is supposed to provide guidelines for reporting, investigating, preventing, and handling crimes that occur on cruise ships.
The Act requires that:
- Each vessel should have railings that are at least 42 inches high
- Staterooms shall have peep holes
- Ships built after the Act shall be equipped with time logged keys
- Ships built after Act shall be equipped with safety locks
- Ships built after Act shall be equipped with surveillance cameras to view sides of ship and open decks
- Each vessel must have available to all guests a Security Guide or documentation regarding reporting crimes and jurisdiction of crimes that occur while on the ship
- Post in each stateroom the location of the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in all of the countries where the ship will dock
- Each vessel maintain materials for a sexual assault medical evaluation on board the vessel, including treatment for potential sexually transmitted diseases
- Each vessel have medical personnel on board the vessel that is trained and able to perform sexual assault medical evaluations at the request of the victim
- Each vessel must provide contact information for local law enforcement, the FBI, the US Embassy or Consulate, and the National Sexual Assault Hotline as well as provide internet or telephone access for the individual to confidentially report said crime to any of the above mentioned agencies at the time of report
- Each vessel is required to record in a log book all reports of serious crimes, or theft over $1,000 in a method easily accessible to law enforcement
- The owner or representative of each vessel is required to contact the law enforcement agency and FBI by telephone as soon as possible following the reporting of any serious crime or theft over $10,000
- The vessel furnish a written report of the incident or crime through the online portal maintained by the Secretary of State
- The Secretary is required to publicly report all crimes reported to the FBI that are no longer under investigation on a website that is also linked by any and all cruise lines that pick up or drop of passengers in the United States
There are many issues surrounding the Act. To start with, the Act only regulates effectively if the law is followed. Unfortunately, many of these cruise companies are registered to countries outside of the United States. Even Disney Cruise Lines is incorporated in the U.K. and registered to the Bahamas. This means that while cruise companies are technically required to follow the letter of this Act, they often do not. When the cruise companies fail to follow these laws, the passenger can fall victim to crime. Congress recognizes this problem and wrote it into the Act:
"Most cruise vessels that operate into and out of United States ports are registered under the laws of another country, and investigations and prosecutions of crimes against passengers and crew members may involve the laws and authorities of multiple nations."Did you Know?
According to the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, most cruise ship companies are registered to foreign nations such as the Bahamas, Panama, and Liberia even though their home ports are here in the United States. This is done to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and regulations. The ICV describes this to mean that when an American passenger steps onto a cruise ship, it may be like stepping onto a piece of foreign territory.
In addition, the wording of the law is such that the Government and FBI are only required to report to the public those cases with closed investigations. If the case was not investigated by the FBI, they may not need to report the incident publicly... even if the report of the crime was made to the agencies and government.
This means, we as the public, lack reliable statistics on the frequency of crimes such as sexual assault, molestation, and rape. This means we are unaware of the potential dangers we face while on board cruises.
- Between December 2007 and October 2008, 363 serious crimes were reported by cruise lines to the FBI.
- Between the first quarter of 2010, after the new requirements of reporting crimes was passed, and the first quarter of 2012, only 54 serious crimes were reported publicly by the FBI.
- By the third quarter of 2012, ZERO crimes were reported to the public by the FBI, even though the FBI admitted to the crimes being reported to them.
- In 2012, the Coast Guard publicly reported 11 sexual assault crimes, of the 11 reported, 6 were accusations against crew members.
- Despite the FBI not reporting cases to the public, the ICV used the Freedom of Information Act to retrieve all crime reports received by the FBI for a one year period ending on September 30, 2008. Of the reports retrieved, 151 of them were of sexual assault, 56 of these involved crew members in some way.
- CruiseRape.com, a support center for victims of rape on cruises, reports that one major cruise line had reports of 173 cases of sexual assault and rape in a period of just five years. They also report that of the 173 cases, none has resulted in prosecution of the offender.
You have rights as a victim. Our office understands that a terrible thing has happened to you and you may lack the knowledge of what to do next. As a victim, you may be entitled to a civil action claim for damages.
It is important to understand that regardless of the criminal outcome of your situation, you may still have a chance to pursue justice. If you call our office for a free consultation, you can speak with a Cruise Ship Rape Victim attorney.
Call (888) 99-VICTIM!
First, make sure you report the incident to all relevant authorities as soon as possible. Make sure your case is being documented. Seek the necessary medical treatment. This is important for your health and for properly documenting any and all injuries you have sustained.
You can contact our office at any point in this process. Our staff is trained to handle these sensitive circumstances with compassion and understanding. We are a Crime Victim Rights law firm. We know your rights and we can help you.
Even if the criminal justice system has failed you, you may still have a claim for damages. Do not let the cruise lines sweep your assault under the rug!
Contact our office for a free case evaluation with a Florida Maritime Crime Victim Attorney!Out of State?
When you purchased your passage ticket for your cruise, you signed a contract that restricts your jurisdiction. Most major cruise lines require that your action be brought in Florida by a Florida Maritime Attorney. We can handle your case against these cruise lines regardless of what state you live in.
We are available for consultation by phone or in any State and Florida city, including Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Port Canaveral, Kissimmee, Key West, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Sarasota, Naples, Fort Myers, Port St. Lucie, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and more.Cruise Rape Victim Help Organizations
Other helpful articles and links:
- International Cruise Victims: Victims Helping Victims, Our Stories
- Cruise Ship Crime Stats aren't Smooth Sailing
- Erasing Cruise Ship Crime
- Did Disney Cruise Lines cover up Sexual Molestation of 11-yr-old girl?
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