Cruise shipping is the proper vacation if you want to relax after a long year of hard work or school, enjoy planned activities, and professional catering. The shipping company is responsible for protecting all parties on board and reporting any crimes. Unfortunately, many fail to carry out this obligation.

Sexual assault and rape cases have been reported on cruise ships. Still, victims of these crimes rarely receive justice because of maritime laws, as the offenses usually happen on the sea and in different jurisdictions.

When you experience cruise ship sexual abuse in California, legal assistance is available to ensure you obtain justice and compensation for your damages. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we will give you the advice you need after discussing your case, file a civil suit, and assist you in seeking compensation.

California Cruise Ship Sexual Abuse at a Glance

Americans love taking cruise trips while vacationing. The industry has grown significantly in the past few years as millions of partygoers and their families want to relax and unwind before resuming their hectic schedules. The industry has not disappointed revelers because it has widespread pre-planned events and catering professionals who ensure you enjoy your stay.

As much as you want to have fun, safety is essential. You could suffer serious injuries or lose your life in the name of fun. As a result, laws are in place to ensure cruise shipping companies provide safety and protection measures for those vacationing. Sadly, many companies fail at this obligation, resulting in young and old revelers sustaining life-altering injuries or financial damages while vacationing.

The Cruise Ship Vessel Security and Safety Act (CSVSSA) was passed in 2010 by the U.S. Congress to address safety issues on cruise ships. The Act also protects revelers from sexual abuse by guiding them on ways to avert sexual violence and how victims should respond to the assault. The law requires cruise ships to have adequate resources to ensure those on board can seek medical attention. Besides, the companies should allow sexual abuse victims to undergo forensic examinations and provide precise procedures for reporting sexual assault incidents.

As a passenger, CSVSSA provides you with several rights when cruise touring. You must be assigned a security guide or a jotted summary of the party to contact when an illegality happens on board. Again, you have a right to a forensic exam, so the cruise ship must have the necessary equipment. Lastly, whenever you are assaulted and provide the details of the sexual abuse to medical personnel, staff, or counselors, the facts must remain confidential. 

After the investigations, CSVSSA requires that the company report the crime to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Nevertheless, it has been challenging to report these cases because the CSVSSA of 2020 requires the cruise ship to only report sexual abuse cases that happen and not the alleged ones. As a result, since 2011, only 31 cases have been reported to the public, compared to 959 reported to the FBI based on the 2013 Congressional report.

Despite these laws being implemented, they do not prevent crimes from happening. Sexual assault cases still happen on cruise ships. If the perpetrator is a crew or staff member, they will face criminal charges. The cruise ship company will also be held strictly liable for the sexual abuse and compensate you for your harm.

Seeking justice after sexual assault can be challenging, and you could be tempted to keep the issue to yourself. Jurisdiction issues can also hamper your efforts to obtain justice, but this should not mean you give up. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we are ready to help you seek justice and compensation from the liable party.

Prevalence of Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

Per the American Department of Transport (DOT), the most widespread crime reported on cruise ships is sexual assault or abuse. In 2018, the department received 83 sexual assault allegations. Since 2016, the DOT has received 220 sexual abuse cases, with Carnival Cruise Lines reporting the most sexual abuse cases four months later, towards the end of 2019. Nevertheless, the actual cases could be higher than those noted, as companies fear denting their reputation by reporting these sexual assault cases to authorities.

Similarly, sexual abuse victims are unwilling to report it out of fear of embarrassment, as they feel they are to blame. Others believe they are in a different jurisdiction or under maritime laws, and the authorities could fail to take legal action.

Do not suffer in silence after sexual abuse on a cruise ship. The Sex Crimes Attorney can help bring to book the perpetrators of the violence and help you obtain financial damages.

Examples of sexual Assault Cases on Cruise Ships

Cruise ship corporations often underreport or cover up sexual abuse incidents. Nevertheless, statistics show a 67% increase in cases from 2018 to 2019, showing sex offenses are a severe problem in the industry. Examples of issues reported by the Miami New Times in 2019 are as follows:

  • In 2015, multiple drunk men lured a teenage girl to a cabin and raped her on the Royal Caribbean Cruise.
  • Another alleged sexual abuse case happened the same year when a Norwegian Cruise Line employee used a master key to access an eleven-year-old girl’s room and sexually abused her.
  • Another case was reported in 2016 when a 16-year-old on the Carnival Ship alleged that her fitness instructor sexually molested her.
  • In 2014, a Holland America Line Cruise Ship employee confessed to raping a 31-year-old female passenger. He later attempted to throw her overboard from the balcony. The perpetrator admitted to accessing the passenger’s room with a master key and hiding in the balcony until she returned.

Many horrendous stories like these are prevalent in the industry. The companies underreport the cases, silence victims, interfere with investigations, or cover up crimes to protect the perpetrators. As a result, many perpetrators of cruise ship sexual assault escape justice. 

Staying Safe on a Cruise Ship to Prevent Sexual Abuse

Some companies have implemented all the measures provided under CSVSSA to ensure the safety of those on board. Unfortunately, a few ships do not implement these measures, and their passengers suffer. Therefore, you should try to guarantee your safety or that of your loved one by following some tips.

First, inquire about the cruise ship’s safety protocols before boarding. Take time to read the written summary of the company's guidelines to its passengers, detailing the protocols they have in place to ensure safety. That way, you will understand how to remain safe throughout the vacation.

Similarly, it would help to be wary of the individuals you invite into your room. Even though you want to make new friends while vacationing, do not invite unfamiliar people to your room, however pleasant they seem. You can mingle freely and enjoy all the social amenities on the ship but do not invite people into your privacy.

Besides, it is critical to understand your limit when drinking. Always take alcohol that you can leverage to stay aware of your surroundings and protect yourself. Overindulging in alcohol makes it difficult to resist sexual assault or even know when you have been sexually assaulted. Again, please do not leave your drink unattended, as it could be spiked.

Avoid walking alone, and always tag along with another person when walking in isolated areas. Stay conscious of the people around you, as some sexual marauders strike when you least expect them.

Types of Widespread Sexual Abuse Cases Reported in Cruise Ships

Sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity or contact without consent from the other party. The act can be accomplished by force or threats, or the perpetrator can make you unconscious by using drugs or alcohol before the sexual violence. Sexual abuse involves various conducts, like rape. The perpetrator can coerce you into the act or rape you.

The cruise shipping industry has had its share of rape and sexual abuse cases. Therefore, even if you have been assaulted and feel it is your fault, do not stay quiet because the perpetrator will not face justice, and there could be more victims. The abuse committed against you is not your fault, and you should report the assaulter and hold them financially liable for their actions. You will acquire justice, and the industry will be safer for the revelers that come after you.  

Different states have various sexual abuse definitions. In California, the common forms of sexual violence or abuse are:

  • Sexual violence against a minor.
  • Rape.
  • Sexual coercion.
  • Attempted rape.
  • Unwanted contact or rubbing, even if you have clothes on.
  • Any form of sexual contact involving a party that has no legal consent, including a minor, a person with an intellectual disability, a heavily drunk or intoxicated individual, or an unconscious person.

You should know that sexual abuse can be accomplished even without any contact. For example:

  • Sexting.
  • Sending sexual harassment or threatening messages.
  • Flashing.
  • Voyeurism.
  • Forcing someone to watch pornographic content.

Rape is the most widespread form of cruise ship sexual violence. According to the Department of Justice, it involves forcible penetration of someone’s anus or vagina with a foreign object, sex organ, or body part. Even the slightest penetration amounts to rape and is strictly punished by California statutes upon conviction.

Sexual violence can cause the victim physical, emotional, and psychological suffering, not to mention the vast amounts you will spend receiving treatment. Claiming compensation through a civil suit will not take you back to how you were before the incident but will make your new situation comfortable.

Sexual Abuse Effects on the Victim

The effects of sexual assault on a cruise ship are devastating physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.

As a victim of sexual violence, you will develop long periods of grief and hopelessness that turn into depression. You can tell when you have suffered from depression if you start withdrawing from friends and family, inexplicably cry, or stop participating in the hobbies you previously enjoyed.

Another effect of sexual abuse is post-traumatic stress disorder. Your life will change after the sexual abuse as you develop anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrolled thoughts. The flashback can cause you to withdraw from your family and elicit anger or hatred.

If you experience sadness and hopelessness for a long time, you will start feeling worthless, leading to suicidal contemplations and sometimes even suicide attempts. Cruise ship sexual violence victims need much love and compassion from their loved ones to beat or wade off the suicidal thoughts in their minds.

Lastly, you can become dissociated as you try to forget the traumatic event. Dissociation causes you to stop concentrating on the job, school, or at home; all you want to do is sleep and overlook the past.

The emotional effects of sexual abuse are:

  • Numbness.
  • Fear.
  • Guilt.
  • Loneliness.
  • Disorientation.
  • Shock.
  • Feeling vulnerable.
  • Self-blame.
  • Sense of anger or shame.
  • Helplessness.
  • Denial.
  • Loss of control.

In the long term, you will experience the following effects:

  • Prolonged fatigue.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Involuntary shaking.

As a reaction to these effects, you can develop the following:

  • Parenting problems.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse.
  • Relationship issues.
  • Self-harming behavior.
  • Transitory psychotic episodes.

As a victim of cruise ship sexual violence, you will sustain damages. You need specialized help to recover from this situation and continue your life. And part of what will help you live past the incident is seeing the perpetrator of the violence held liable for their criminal activities and obtaining compensation for all your damages, present and future.

Sexual abuse by a cruise line crew member or staff member can result in hefty special and general damages for which you must obtain compensation. You are not responsible for the perpetrators, so you should not be embarrassed to report the case. If you report it and an investigation is conducted, the culprit will face charges in criminal court. If they are employees of the cruise company, file a civil lawsuit against the employer to obtain compensation. An experienced sex offenses attorney at the Sex Crimes Attorney will help you obtain maximum reimbursement.

Reasons for Sexual Assault Prevalence on Cruise Ships

The primary reason for the widespread sexual violence cases on cruise ships is that revelers are exposed in their cabins. Further, the perpetrators of the violence, primarily cruise ship crew, have employee-level access to these passenger rooms.

Some employers do not take sufficient measures to ensure passenger safety. The companies fail to vet their employees thoroughly. Sometimes, these workers, who should protect revelers, become sexual predators. You will never find police officers or private security contractors working as security on the ship. The security personnel are members of the staff, and when one of their colleagues sexually abuses a passenger, they are the ones to conduct investigations. Also, some security personnel lack proper training and knowledge of techniques to investigate crimes on the ship. Perpetrators can exploit these security loopholes to commit sexual violence and bungle investigations.

Another reason for the prevalence of sexual abuse on cruise ships is the several relaxation services available on board, like alcohol consumption. When some revelers overindulge in alcohol, they become reckless or negligent, elevating the risk of sexual abuse. A worker can serve a reveler excessive alcohol to make them unconscious or lose control and accompany them to the cabins where they commit sexual assault.

The whole environment on a cruise ships creates an enabling setting for sexual abuse. These companies fail to vet their employees thoroughly during recruitment and end up with staff with criminal histories or questionable pasts. If these companies adhere to the provisions of the law during hiring, they could not have sexual predators or criminals working for them. Again, some companies lack sufficient measures to protect their clients.

Reporting Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

When you are sexually abused aboard a cruise ship, your first step should be to seek medical treatment. A medical professional will be available onboard to conduct a medical exam, prepare a comprehensive medical report, and offer treatment. The police will quickly investigate the case when you arrive on shore. And when the assault happens on land, visit a nearby hospital or clinic for examination and treatment.

Many patients make the mistake of cleaning themselves after the abuse. Do not do this before the medical professional takes a sample for forensic testing. Also, your clothes have the DNA of the perpetrator, so do not change them until you have visited the doctor.

Being thousands of miles away from your jurisdiction can make it challenging to pursue justice because of the tedious processes. It is tough to ascertain who has jurisdiction over the abuse case when it happens outside of the United States. If the abuse occurs within the nation, you should report it to the FBI. Nevertheless, when the incident occurs in overseas waters, establishing who has jurisdiction over the case discourages many victims from reporting. Contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy and talk to an officer who will link you to an expert.

The advantage of contacting government officials is that they have adequate training to handle sexual abuse cases. So, you can rest assured that the person you will be connected to will help you seek justice and recover your losses.

You should contact a sex offenses attorney with experience handling sexual violence cases on cruise ships. The attorney understands the procedures followed to obtain and preserve evidence and will involve other professionals to collect sufficient proof to sustain your civil suit. An excellent attorney will handle the lawsuit while you focus on healing.

Criminal Charges and Civil Suits

Sexual violence cases are both criminal and civil when they occur on cruise ships. The state of California can pursue criminal charges, while you can file a civil lawsuit against the person liable for your losses.

When you report the issue to the authorities or cruise security personnel, the alleged assailant will be arrested and held in custody. If the evidence on the medical report provides sufficient proof of sexual violence or rape, the prosecutor will level criminal charges against the accused. The defendant will be convicted if they confess to the crime or stand trial and the court finds them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The penalties for a sexual abuse conviction include a prison sentence, court-imposed financial fines, and victim restitution. The court determines your sentence based on your criminal record and the circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse.

On top of the criminal penalties, you can file a civil suit against the accused for the physical, psychological, and emotional harm caused by the sexual assault. Under California injury statutes, as a sexual assault victim, you can seek damages if you have evidence to show the civil court by a preponderance of the evidence that the cruise ship owner is civilly liable for your injuries.

You will sue the company for failing to protect you and other revelers against sexual violence. You must demonstrate that the company could not vet employees during recruitment thoroughly, provide security personnel with adequate training to investigate crimes committed on the cruise ship and disregard CSVSSA guidelines on the safety protocols for cruise ships. If the claim’s outcome is in your favor, you will obtain damages to cover:

  • Medical costs.
  • Mental suffering.
  • Counseling expenses.
  • Depression.
  • Pain and anguish.
  • Lost income.
  • Stress.

Before filing a claim, talk to your sex offenses attorney to determine the strength of your claim and compensable damages. If there is a need for further investigations, the attorney will partner with private investigators and medical professionals to gather more evidence for a factual claim.

In unique circumstances, you can claim punitive damages if the liable party demonstrated gross negligence in their action or inaction. For example, when a cruise shipping company has multiple reported sexual abuse complaints but covers them up or underreports them, the civil court can impose punitive damages. The goal of punitive damages is to punish the responsible individual and discourage others from engaging in the same conduct in the future.

Find an Experienced Sex Offense Attorney Near Me

Cruise ship sexual violence or abuse is a tormenting experience that can happen to anyone, including minors, adults, and senior citizens. The results of the offense are physical, mental, and emotional trauma. Knowing you can seek civil and criminal reprieve from the court should encourage you to report the case. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we understand these offenses are complicated, which is why our attorneys with experience in sex offenses are ready to help. Call us today at 888-666-8480 to schedule a meeting in California.