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

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Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, overboard passenger, cruise ship safety, maritime attorneysIn our last blog, we discussed the strange cruise ship overboard accident that has made headlines across the nation. A Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas passenger mysteriously fell overboard last week and was rescued by the Disney Magic. But there are several questions left unanswered.

Witnesses aboard the ship explain that several passengers heard victim while he was in the water crying out for help. After passengers spotted him, the crew of the Disney Magic began a rescue mission. Passengers were able to throw life vessels out to the victim, identified as 22-year-old Frank Jade, and he was subsequently taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.

What’s strange about the incident is that the victim has no recollection about how he fell into the sea. Fortunately – and quite shockingly – he suffered no major injuries as a result of the accident, but our maritime attorneys are left wondering about the real details surrounding the incident and how this passenger could have even survived in the water for so long. If he has no memory of falling, it could mean he lost consciousness. But if the victim was unconscious, how did he stay afloat? Something just doesn’t seem right.

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Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean, man overboard, rescue, maritime attorneysWhen a 22-year old man fell overboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Cozumel, Mexico last week, the crew on Disney Magic were put on alert. Finding a passenger who has fallen into the vast ocean is extremely difficult, even for trained Coast Guard personnel, as we discovered in the case of Robert Konrad who fell off his boat and wasn’t spotted by Coast Guard, even after they shined their lights right on him. In a man overboard situation, all people available to scan the water should be asked to help to spot a fallen passenger. It can be very challenging to spot a person in the water, especially if he or she isn’t wearing a life jacket.

Miraculously, the Disney Magic was able to find and rescue the victim. However, the accident raises several concerns, not only calling into question the safety tactics and protocols of both Disney and Royal, but those of the cruise industry as a whole.

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Holland America, cruise rape, sentencedIt’s been nearly a year since a Holland America passenger was raped and nearly killed by a cruise ship crew member aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam ship on Valentine’s Day, 2014. We can’t even begin to imagine the unspeakable amount of suffering the victim underwent – or the suffering any other cruise ship rape victim undergoes – but now, finally, at least some semblance of justice has been attained.

According to news reports, a verdict has been reached in the case. The former HAL crew member was sentenced to 30 years and five months in prison in a Broward County Federal Court.

Back in September, Ketut Pujayasa, the Indonesian crew member in question, confessed to brutally raping, beating, and attempting to throw the passenger overboard from the balcony in her stateroom to FBI officials. Pujayasa told officials he believed the victim insulted him, and plotted revenge against her. He then obtained a master key and entered her room while she was away, waited for her in the balcony, and once the victim came back to the stateroom, he sexually assaulted her and tried to throw her overboard as a form of “punishment”.

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Quantum of the SeasRoyal Caribbean recently fired a Quantum of the Seas crew member who was held in custody in New Jersey following accusations that he sexually assaulted a passenger in her cabin. The passenger was allegedly asleep when the assault took place.

The 25 year old crew member who was from Mauritius, allegedly threatened the woman against reporting the incident when she woke up. The crew member had access to the woman’s room because it was his duty to restock the cabin mini-bars. The crew member had been given a key that allowed him to have access to the woman’s room.

Given the fact that crew members are often given unrestricted access to passenger’s private rooms, one wonders what measures are in place in terms of security background checks during the hiring process. Though thorough background checks should be done, not every cruise line does so. And even when a background check is thorough, they don’t always check for criminal history in other countries, despite the fact that the majority of cruise ship crew members are foreign-born.

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stay safe on your cruiseImagine this: you’re out for your morning walk on the beach. It’s the day after Christmas and the sun is shining. You look out into the water and realize that something isn’t right. Something that is in the water shouldn’t be there. You take a closer look. Your curiosity becomes horror as you realize what it is you are looking at.

For the innocent bystander who found the body of a Holland America crew member, this scenario was reality. The body of Cliford B. Minej washed up on a Florida beach just five days after his cruise ship returned home without him. His body washed up at around 7:15 a.m. on Clearwater Beach. He was reportedly found wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Unfortunately, man overboard situations on cruise ships are more common than the public would like to think. Since 2000, over 200 people have died as a result of falling overboard.

Investigators are still trying to determine what went wrong. It is unclear whether the man jumped to his death or fell off the ship by accident. The Pinellas County Medical Examiner has thus far ruled the man’s death an accident.

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HandcuffsIn the U.S., sex offenders are required to register with the FBI in order to let government agencies know where they will live. In all U.S. states, neighbors and citizens are warned through websites or other publications when a registered sex offender moves nearby. Megan’s Law requires that the U.S. government provide citizens with notification and information about sex offenders, including personal information about where the sex offender resides. Registered sex offenders are prohibited from being in the presence of minors or coming within a certain distance of a school or day care center.

Yet, when individuals go on a cruise vacation, it is impossible to know whether the person in the cabin next door or the fellow sitting by the pool is a registered sex offender. Cruise lines don’t have the same informational and governmental structure available to them to warn vacationers when a sex offender may be traveling on board. The results of this information gap can sometimes be tragic.

The unfortunate reality is that cruise lines do not perform background checks on passengers and guests and they are not required to warn other passengers when a sex offender is traveling onboard a cruise.

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Each cruise ship rape lawyer at our firm has, unfortunately, seen many tragic cases where women have been raped while on board a cruise. We fight diligently to seek justice for these women and understand that victims often feel confused and alone. Yet, it’s important to remember that there are a variety of resources available to protect the rights of those who have been victims of rape and sexual assault on the high seas.

​First and foremost, if you’ve been assaulted on a ship, report the crime to ship authorities as soon as possible, but also report the incident to the FBI and Coast Guard on your own and consult with a cruise ship rape lawyer to discuss your rights and steps you should take after the incident to ensure your protection. It is vital for you to take action on your own for several reasons.

For one, though maritime law requires cruise lines to contact authorities and perform their own investigation when notified of a suspected sexual assault or rape, unfortunately, cruise lines don’t always do so. Often, cruise operators fail to report the crime to the FBI and other law enforcement authorities, fail to question alleged suspects, fail to review on board surveillance tapes for any record of the incident, or fail to perform a proper and thorough investigation of the alleged crime scene itself.

By contacting the FBI and Coast Guard on your own to report the crime directly, you can have peace of mind in knowing the incident was documented by the proper officials, who will take decisive action. And by contacting a cruise ship rape lawyer, you will have peace of mind in knowing that an experienced legal professional will start building a case for you immediately.

 

Yet, even when cruise lines do follow proper maritime protocols following an alleged sexual assault or rape, the fact still stands that even the most skilled and experienced of a ship’s security officers often cannot investigate the incident or gather evidence as accurately as an actual law enforcement officer or FBI agent would be able to.

​Also, if the assault occurred while the ship was docked in a foreign country, that nation’s authorities will be responsible for conducting the primary investigation and may not do so thoroughly or quickly enough and may not even be willing to cooperate with U.S. authorities or the victims themselves. This not only creates a window of opportunity for the assailant to get away with the crime, but hinders the victim’s ability to obtain justice.

​Additionally, if you have been raped onboard a cruise ship, do not shower immediately and leave the crime scene intact so that investigators have a chance to collect as much evidence as possible. Make sure that the crime scene is not altered until proper authorities can investigate. Unfortunately, due to international laws, the FBI may not be able to investigate the crime scene until the ship docks at a U.S. port.

You should also seek medical treatment immediately, either on board the ship or at a local hospital if docked at a foreign country. While medical services on a cruise ship are limited, most cruises have at least one doctor on duty that can perform at least a basic health screening and take samples that may be later used to identify the assailant.

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Bill Cosby accused of rapeWith 16 women having come out in recent weeks accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault and abuse, it’s become extremely clear that sexual assault needs to be brought to the forefront – especially sexual assault on cruise ships. Not only is it important for cruise ship rape victims to understand the importance of coming forward with their testimonies, it is equally critical that cruise lines start implementing greater safety measures to prevent these tragedies in the first place.

There are several similarities between the incidents with Cosby and those that happen on board cruise ships. For example, Time Magazine reports that many of the women who accused Cosby of sexual assault remained silent about the abuse during the comedian’s long career, spanning from the 70s to the present. Some of the women say that Cosby drugged them before assaulting them. More shockingly, Cosby’s history of rape would not have reached the public eye had the comedian Hannibal Buress not mentioned it in a comic routine.

Like Cosby’s victims, there are numerous sexual assaults and rapes on cruise ships that never see the light of day. Whether it’s because the victim is afraid to come forward or the cruise line fails to properly investigate the situation, assailants do not always get identified or charged with their actions. Furthermore, cruise lines have an interest in underreporting sexual crimes. For example, although Carnival Cruise Lines reported five rape incidents involving crew members and two incidents of sexual assault for 2013, experts believe these numbers may not be accurate.

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Sun PrincessJust last week, we discussed a rather disturbing video we saw regarding a Carnival Cruise Line passenger who purposefully jumped overboard from the ship as it approached the port of Grand Turk. We say disturbing because there have been 239 cruise passenger overboard accidents in the past decade alone, and this individual’s choice to jump ship makes a mockery out of those victims’ suffering – along with their families’ suffering. This man is lucky to be alive, as it is a rare few that actually survive falling overboard. We don’t know what got into him. Maybe he thought it was funny? Maybe he just wasn’t thinking? Either way, it was a careless decision – and careless is putting it lightly.

Overboard accidents are no laughing matter. Hundreds of people have lost their lives after falling overboard – and many of these accidents remain unsolved cruise passenger disappearance crimes and mysteries to this date. Purposefully jumping off the ship is an extremely dangerous thing to do. If you feel the urge to jump, jump into the pool on your ship, or jump up and down on your stateroom’s bed. Jumping 60 feet off a ship into waters that you have no idea what’s lurking within is extremely reckless and will most likely result in a fatality.

But while one person is busy poking fun at jumping overboard, the family of one actual overboard victim is now grieving for the loss of their loved one. Our maritime lawyers were saddened to learn that the search for a cruise passenger who fell from a Princess Cruises ship was called off.

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Carnival passenger jumps overboard on purposeYesterday, we discussed a pretty strange, rare, and honestly, rather foolish decision made by a Carnival Cruise Line passenger. The individual decided, whether because he thought it was funny, was intoxicated, or because he did not fully comprehend the gravity of his actions, to purposefully jump overboard into the waters off the coast of Grand Turk.

We cannot stress how dangerous his decision was, as he is lucky to be alive. You already heard what our offshore injury lawyer thought on the matter; now check out what the jumper himself had to say about the incident. His testimony – and a video documenting the entire jump – is available for the whole world to see (and be dumbfounded by).

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