John Travolta is accused of engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct on a Royal Caribbean cruise, according to a lawsuit filed by Fabian Zanzi, a Chilean national, and Royal Caribbean cruise ship employee. Zanzi was appointed to be Travolta’s personal attendant and massage therapist. The suit alleges that during the course of the massage, Travolta made sexually inappropriate remarks and took sexually inappropriate actions, and attempted to cover up the conduct with a bribe. Zanzi is also alleging that his employer didn’t allow him to fully report the incident without considerable censorship that limited the nature of the allegations and the extent to which those actions were perpetrated.
Meanwhile, media reports have surfaced that previous actions against Travolta by two male massage therapists were removed from court. The suit was, in fact, dismissed without prejudice and counsel for the masseuses has said the suit should be “filed in another court.” That led to media and paparazzi speculation that a private judge or confidential binding mediation might decide the matter.
Whatever the actual facts that surround Travolta’s sordid accusations from three separate massage therapists, it does place into the spotlight an issue that our cruise injury firm has become all too familiar with over the years: Cruise ship rape or sexual assault. The likelihood of a rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, or other sexual misconduct is actually higher on a cruise ship than on dry land. In fact, cruise ship rape or sexual assault is the most common crime that takes place on a cruise ship, according to one study of data compiled from crimes reported on cruise ships 2003-2006. A staggering 86% of crimes reported on cruise ships from 2003-2006 were cruise ship rapes or sexual assaults. People are 50% more likely to be sexually assaulted on board a cruise ship than if they are at home on dry land. It can, and has, happened to both passengers and crew.
Take all necessary and proper steps to keep yourself safe, and be advised of these legal pitfalls in such cases:
• You have a right to insist that the FBI investigate. Because the cruise ship industry’s own authorities will likely be the first “official” responders to the scene, they may move evidence or miss key pieces of evidence. This is something that can add to their liability. Have someone photograph the scene, or photograph it yourself as soon as it is safe to do so.
• The cruise ship company may argue that “accidents happen,” or that the victim is “in their thoughts” but that there’s “nothing that could have prevented it.” That may not be true! Cruise lines have an obligation to keep you safe. While it is true that some crimes are not preventable, the cruise ship’s operator is responsible to ensure your safety while on board.
The investigation of crimes at sea is very different than on land, and so is the civil litigation in the event that the cruise ship company was negligent or otherwise fallen short of their obligations to the people on board under the law. Our firm has significant experience in handling cruise ship rape claims, and experience in obtaining the maximum recovery for victims.
No one deserves to be a victim, and the cruise lines’ arguments often amount to “blame the victim.” This is absolutely unacceptable. This is why it is so important to retain a maritime lawyer with experience in cruise ship rape civil litigation if you or anyone you know or love has been a victim of an all too common cruise ship crime.