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 Ship Rape & Sexual Assault

HandcuffsEarlier this week, we reported on an alleged sexual assault aboard a cruise ship in St. Kitts on June 6. There wasn’t much information on the supposed incident at first, aside from suggestions that the alleged assailant was a crew member, but a recent article published by a local news source has confirmed that the assault did in fact take place and the attacker was in fact a Carnival crew member.

According to the news source, the assault occurred onboard the Carnival Valor, while the vessel was berthed at Port Zante. Details are still scarce, but the source reports that cruise operators alerted local authorities of the incident and the assailant was taken into custody the same day and charged with rape. The victim was a female passenger aboard the ship, but due to privacy concerns, their identity was not revealed. Unlike a victim’s privacy rights, however, the identity of the assailant can be disclosed. Strangely, neither local authorities nor Carnival operators have yet to provide details on the crew member’s name or the circumstances surrounding the assault.

We here find it extremely odd that the details regarding this cruise ship rape – which occurred nearly a week ago – still remain so ambiguous. Though cruise lines have long failed to accurately report crimes aboard their ships, especially sexual crimes, the identity of the assailant is usually revealed a few days after the incident is initially reported. This particular incident seems to be under wraps, which leads us to believe there may be something neither local authorities nor Carnival want to reveal.

Continue reading →

Posted by

Cruise ship inspectionOur firm has reported on numerous sexual assault incidents aboard cruise lines over the years. In some cases, the incidents have involved other cruise passengers as the assailants, while in other cases, crew members themselves have been the suspects. Just last February, we reported on a horrific incident involving a female passenger who was brutally assaulted and raped by a Holland America crew member in her own stateroom. But while the idea of a crew member breaking into a passenger cabin seems to many a farfetched concept, sadly, the rate of sexual crimes on the high seas is more common than anyone might imagine. In fact, comprising 55 percent of all crimes reported to the FBI, sexual assault is the most frequently occurring offense on the high seas, and one of the most covered up.

We’ve previously discussed how cruise lines have underreported crimes over the years, mostly due to the fact that most ships are registered in foreign countries. By doing so, cruise lines are able to avoid stricter U.S. laws and are not as bound to disclose crime data as they would were ships to be registered in the United States. Also, with full disclosure of all criminal incidents onboard ships, cruise lines risk the negative press associated with these crimes and a drop in bookings. After all, who would feel safe traveling with a cruise line that held a high rate of sexual assault crimes?

Last year, Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller introduced a bill that would require cruise lines to increase transparency in their crime data reporting. The legislation was proposed after it became increasingly clear that the cruise industry was withholding information about their crime stats, especially when it came to sexual crimes. According to FBI data, cruise lines only reported 29 sexual assault or rape incidents to the organization in 2012 and only 11 of these incidents to the public. Who knows how many more incidents occurred that were withheld from both the FBI and civilians?

Which leads us to our next point. A news source in St. Kitts recently published a story on an alleged sexual assault incident onboard a cruise ship. The attack supposedly occurred on June 6 while the vessel was docked at Porte Zante. Oddly enough, no details regarding which cruise ship the supposed incident occurred on or information about the actual incident were provided. Is someone trying to conceal information?

Continue reading →

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

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

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

HandcuffsSexual assault is a recurring problem in the cruise industry – a problem the public isn’t usually made privy to. When guests board a cruise ship, the last thing on their minds is whether their own safety should be questioned. They never think they will have to look over their shoulders at every turn, wondering whether or not they will be attacked, robbed or pushed overboard. They never worry about covering their drinks because another passenger or a crew member might slip something in it to get them to black out. But unfortunately, the truth is they should be keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.

Statistics show that cruise ship sexual assault and rape is the number one reported crime on the high seas. Anyone can be a target, including young children, and the assaults can occur both onboard a vessel as well as ashore. It is critical that any cruise traveller understand the dangers they face and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from harm, including travelling in large groups and refraining from entering isolated areas and corridors on ships. But even the most prepared of passengers can be the target of a sexual crime.

Continue reading →

HandcuffsAlthough there are times when those responsible for an accident or crime at sea are able to avoid liability for their actions, justice has finally been served in court this week for one cruise ship crewmember…or was it?

A few months ago, our cruise rape lawyers reported on a disturbing sexual crime incident involving a Holland America crew member. The crew member was arrested for possession of child pornography found during a routine port search. Now, the suspect has officially been sentenced for his crimes, hopefully serving as a lesson to him and to the cruise industry as a whole that safety protocols need to be increased across all fleets.

The crew member, 37-year-old Sean Richard Bell, was arrested on June 3 while the vessel he worked on, the Veendam, was docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia. During a routing search, Canadian border patrol agents uncovered several pornographic images of children on Bell’s computer, iPhone and two iPads, as well as on an external hard drive. Bell, of Morden, Manitoba, was working as a musician onboard the ship with the band “Neptune’s Trio” and was promptly taken into custody.

Continue reading →