Contributors

Charles R. Lipcon
Charles R. Lipcon is the firm's founding attorney and has been handling injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims for over 40 years. Read More »
Jason R. Margulies
Jason R. Margulies is an experienced maritime lawyer and an active trial attorney handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Ricardo V. Alsina
Ricardo V. Alsina is an active trial attorney, handling personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims. Read More »
Michael A. Winkleman
Mr. Winkleman is an active trial and appellate attorney handling all personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful death claims, as well as complex business disputes. Read More »

Articles Posted in Cruise Line Crimes

Posted by

HandcuffsBack in February, the cruise ship sexual assault attorneys at our firm reported on a disturbing case involving a Holland America crew member who brutally beat, raped and attempted to murder a female passenger in her own cabin. Now, we have learned of another horrific sexual crime also involving a crew member. Shockingly, the attack was against an underage girl and aboard Disney Cruise Line, of all lines.

According to news reports, 36-year-old Ahmed Sofyan, of Jakarta, Indonesia, was arrested yesterday after molesting a 13-year-old girl aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship. The crew member was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment.

The alleged incident occurred while the Disney Dream was docked in Port Canaveral yesterday morning just after 8 am. Unlike other sexual crime cases, which may never get reported and for which victims may never obtain justice, Disney responded right away to the incident and contacted local and federal authorities upon first hearing of the terrible crime. We don’t yet know the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault, such as where it happened or what prompted the attack, but what we do know is that the way Disney handed the situation was on par with maritime laws regarding sexual crimes.

Continue reading →

Posted by

HandcuffsWhile true that as of late Maritime authorities have been focusing on the increasing number of cruise ship accidents that have taken place in the past few years, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) even called a two-day forum to address the issue of cruise ship safety, the maritime lawyers at our firm fail to see how crimes committed by crewmembers is not a factor that should be taken into account when discussing cruise ship safety overall.

According to a West Palm Beach news source, a 30-year-old crew member aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship has been caught smuggling drugs from the Bahamas to Palm Beach County, where the ship is home ported.

Adrian Bradley Trench was arrested  last Thursday after over 500 grams of cocaine and over 100 grams of heroin were found in his possession. Drug smuggling is a serious offense, which means that for Trench, his days working in the cruise industry are most likely over. Drug smuggling is a federal offense, which means that charges if he is convicted of them will in all likely hood result in years of imprisonment in a Federal Penitentiary.

Continue reading →

Posted by

HandcuffsStatistics show that sexual assault is the most frequently occurring crime within the cruise industry.  Throughout the years, hundreds of passengers ranging in age, race and ethnicity have been molested or raped onboard cruise ships across the world by fellow passengers and cruise ship crew members. Unfortunately, though these crimes are quite common, they are seldom reported by the industry to the FBI and Coast Guard, despite their severity. Cruise lines are well aware that once they report sexual crimes to these authorities, the incidents will likely go public, marring the lines’ reputations and possibly resulting in the cruise lines being held liable for negligence in maintaining safety on their vessels.

The lack of transparency in cruise crime reporting came to a head last year during a U.S. Senate Committee Hearing, where FBI data on sexual crimes was compared to cruise line data. In 2011,  the FBI reported 42 cruise ship sexual assault crimes, but only 13 were reported to the public. Then, in 2012, the FBI reported 29 cruise ship sexual assault crimes, while only 11 were reported to the public.

But even in the wake of the committee hearing, sexual crimes continue to abound within the cruise industry. Demonstrating that reporting alone is not enough to solve the problem.

After a Holland America passenger was brutally beat, sexually assaulted, and nearly killed by a cruise ship crew member in February, we thought we had seen the worst of these horrible crimes, but our maritime attorneys have just learned of an equally harrowing incident that demonstrates the inadequacy of the cruise lines employee screenings and back ground checks.

A British cruise ship crew member who sexually assaulted two children in the 1980s has finally been brought to justice after one of his victims found him on Facebook. Barry Willoughby left England in the early 1990s to pursue a career in the gambling industry and began working in the cruise industry. He had been enjoying what appeared to be a quiet life, when police came to arrest him at his home in Mississippi in 2012.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Justice ScaleThe sexual attack on a Holland America passenger on Valentine’s Day raised several red flags regarding the cruise industry. Our maritime lawyers were appalled to learn that a crewmember onboard the MS Amsterdam illegally entered a passenger’s cabin and brutally attacked, raped and attempted to murder her.  The worker, a 28-year-old room service attendant, used his company-issued master key to enter the victim’s room after plotting the attack. According to perpetrator, the victim allegedly insulted him, which prompted his sexual assault.

As shocking as it is to learn that a crewmember can break into a passenger cabin so easily to commit a sexual crime, this isn’t the first time – nor likely the last – that a crewmember has attacked a passenger. In fact, this is the SECOND sexual assault crime to occur onboard a Holland America ship in less than two months! Our firm’s maritime attorney Jason Margulies is currently representing the victim in the prior case, an 18-year-old passenger who was reportedly assaulted by a ship’s officer aboard the MS Amerstadam.

Now, our firm is even more shocked to learn that the crewmember involved in the most recent crime is being provided legal assistance by the Indonesian government after confessing to his brutal crimes.

Continue reading →

Posted by

sexual assault victimThe recent sexual attack of a passenger onboard a Holland America Line cruise ship has raised red flags for many. Not just for officials, but for cruise goers as well. While the idea of a crew member entering your cabin without your permission in the middle of the night seems shocking and unlikely, when you look at actual cruise crime statistics regarding sexual assault, harassment and rape, the numbers are a lot worse than you might imagine.

When it comes to cruise ship crimes, sexual assault is the leading crime reported to and investigated by the FBI, comprising roughly 55 percent of all crimes at sea that are reported to the agency. But while 55 percent seems extremely high, the real figure is even higher.

Cruise lines are notorious for concealing and downplaying criminal activity on their ships. Why? Well, for starters, if news of a serious crime breaks out, this could cause severe damage to the cruise line’s reputation, especially if a particular line has been involved in repeated sexual offenses. A criminal incident can also cost a cruise line a lot of money. All cruise companies are required to put the safety of their passengers above all else. Safety can mean a lot of things, including protection from accidents and injuries, but it also encompasses protection from criminal activity. Sexual assault is one of the worst and most life-changing incidents an individual can go through. Victims have a right to seek legal help with a maritime attorney and may be eligible to obtain compensation for their pain and suffering. A sexual assault or rape lawsuit can really impact a cruise line’s bank account, and it can also lead to the loss of future cruise sales.

Continue reading →

Posted by

HandcuffsOur maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., have been saddened to hear the terrible news of a violent sexual assault onboard a Holland America ship, the second alleged sexual assault to take place aboard a Holland America cruise ship in less than two months.  A Holland America Line crew member has reportedly confessed to brutally beating, raping and attempting to throw a passenger overboard from her stateroom balcony, during a recent Valentine’s Day cruise aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam. The assailant, a 28-year-old Indonesian man, was apprehended by other crew members and detained until the vessel arrived back in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday, when FBI officials took over the case.

Jason Margulies, a board certified admiralty and maritime lawyer with our firm, expressed concern over the terrible attack and is troubled by the frequency of sexual crimes on the high seas. Mr. Margulies is currently handling a cruise ship sexual assault claim involving another Holland America ship, the MS Amsterdam. The victim, an 18-year-old passenger, was reportedly sexually assaulted by one of the officers on the ship on New Year’s Eve.

“Two reported assaults by two crew members in less than two months is very concerning and raises serious questions regarding the hiring, training and oversight of Holland America’s crew members,” said Mr. Margulies.

According to federal authorities, the latest vicious cruise ship assault occurred onboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam on Valentine’s Day as the ship was sailing off the coast of Roatan, Honduras. The victim, a 31-year-old woman from the United States, was getting ready for bed in her cabin when the assailant allegedly appeared in her room without warning. The room was dark, but the suspect proceeded to attack her violently, raping, beating, punching, and even strangling her. Afterwards, he attempted to throw her off the balcony in her stateroom into the ocean.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Life saverEvery day this week, our cruise ship accident attorneys have been reporting on several overboard accidents that have taken the lives of several innocent people. Some of these accidents have been captured on the ships’ video surveillance systems, while others we know very little about. What we do know is that so far, one 26-year-old male Royal Caribbean passenger, one 65-year-old male Royal Caribbean passenger, and one 34-year-old Princess Cruises crew member have gone overboard. The 26-year-old passenger and the crew member have reportedly jumped from their vessels, but what about the other victim? Why don’t we have any information on his accident or the moments leading up to it?

Aside from these three tragedies, yet another overboard accident has been brought to our attention. An 88-year-old woman allegedly went overboard from the Holland America cruise ship Veendam while the vessel was sailing off the coast of Mexico on Jan. 3.

Passengers on the same itinerary took to social media to voice their concerns, saying that the incident was shrouded in mystery. Some say the woman committed suicide, but no one was sharing information. Others say the crew announced a “man overboard” emergency and ordered travelers to remain in their cabins.

So what exactly happened?

Continue reading →

Posted by

SOS man overboard rescue missionThe new cruise year hasn’t exactly started off the way our maritime lawyers had hoped. We were hoping that maybe, just maybe, 2014 would be the year where the cruise industry finally takes a stand against accidents and crimes and puts forth maximum effort to protect both passengers and crew members on their ships. Our attorneys were hoping that perhaps, cruise lines would shift a little of their focus on improving safety technology on their vessels in order to prevent tragic accidents and crimes from happening, or at least to drastically reduce their occurrence rate. With so much new and exciting technology that can help increase maritime safety, including infrared detection systems that can play a vital role in rescuing victims who go overboard, we were really thinking cruise lines might make a significant change for the better.

Unfortunately, 2014 hasn’t started out quite as we had hoped. Instead, there have already been several accidents, including more overboard accidents. Two Royal Caribbean passengers have gone missing in the first week of the New Year. We reported on the matter just last week, when we learned that a 26-year-old Canadian man allegedly “jumped” off the Adventurer of the Seas as the vessel was sailing near Puerto Rico, as per the ship’s video surveillance footage. Then, just days later, another Canadian passenger, this time a 65-year-old man sailing onboard the Independence of the Seas, disappeared in the middle of the night. Police suspect this victim “fell” off the ship, but with the abundance of surveillance cameras on this ship as well as the Adventurer, how is it that we have no concrete knowledge of what happened to him?

Continue reading →

Posted by

Ship sailing into portRumor has it that the Norwegian Breakaway, the newest addition to the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, was involved in an unspeakable crime last month. Though neither authorities nor the cruise line have confirmed nor denied the allegations, several passengers have turned to various social media outlets, including Cruise Critic and Lipcon’s very own Facebook page, to discuss a possible rape onboard the vessel.

According to a number of passengers who were on December Breakaway itineraries, there have been talks of a possible rape during the Dec. 15 to 22nd ship itinerary. Those who were booked on the itinerary reported experiencing a delay with the disembarkation process. One passenger, who goes by the screen name cruisebear84, reported hearing talk of the possible rape and of rumors that there were two victims, two children!

Continue reading →

Posted by

Life saverA few days ago, our maritime accident lawyers reported on a tragic overboard accident on a Royal Caribbean Ship. The victim, a 26-year-old Canadian man, allegedly jumped off the Adventurer of the Seas, one of the largest ships in the Royal fleet, while the vessel was approaching the coast of Puerto Rico over the weekend. The ship’s captain immediately notified maritime authorities when word of the accident got out, but the man could not be saved. His body was recovered last Sunday, and the real reason behind this terrible accident appears to have vanished with him.

While overboard accidents happen more often than the public ever gets to know about, just days after this horrible loss, another Royal Caribbean cruise ship passenger fell overboard. Two disappearances in less than a week isn’t exactly the best way for a cruise line to kick off the New Year. What’s going on with Royal?

Continue reading →