Children are unfortunately common victims of molestation and other sexual crimes onboard cruise ships. Our cruise ship child molestation attorneys vigorously represent minor children who have been victimized seeking to hold the cruise lines accountable for the crimes committed by crew members and passengers.
Parents are Lulled Into a False Sense of Security
Nearly all major cruise lines offer children-only groups and clubs which are divided by age groups. The cruise lines advertise these clubs as being staffed by competent personnel and safe for children. Parents routinely rely upon the cruise lines’ assurances about the safety of these clubs registering their children to participate in them.
What parents do not know is that often the staff that runs the children’s clubs and activities are perpetrators themselves. Cruise lines routinely hire their staff from countries that do not have the adequate infrastructure to have reliable crime background information databases. Cruise lines claim to rely upon “hiring partners” to conduct background checks and to investigate the candidates. However, without methods to obtain crime background information, whatever investigation is done by the “hiring partners” is absolutely unreliable.
Additionally, parents often assume that these “children only” clubs restrict access to others who are not supposed to be there such as persons over the age of 18 or that they will be notified if their children leave the clubs. Often, however, the clubs do not have any mechanisms to confirm the ages of the individuals entering or to prevent children from leaving the club without their parents’ permission. Thus, perpetrators often target minor victims by visiting these clubs and establishing friendships with minor children during the duration of the cruise. Then, once they have formed a relationship with their intended victims, they lure them to other areas of the ship to carry out their attacks.
In our experience, attackers routinely wait to assault their victims until the night before disembarkation knowing that victims often delay to make a report of their assault until a day or more after. This strategy also increases the perpetrators chances of getting away with their heinous crimes since it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain evidence against them once the cruise has ended.
Another reason parents are often lulled into a false sense of security are cameras all around the ship. Most parents trust that their children are safe wandering about the ship because there are cameras all around. Parents are always shocked to learn that the cruise line closed circuit television cameras are not monitored by cruise lines.
Duties Owed by Cruise Lines to Minor Passengers – Duty of Supervision
For a full discussion of the duties owed to passengers by cruise lines please visit our Cruise Ship Rape and Sexual Assault Lawyers page.
In addition to the duties owed to passengers by cruise lines, in cases involving children being assaulted, molested or raped as a result of participating in kids club activities, our cruise ship child molestation attorneys also allege that the cruise line, by its representations to parents that its clubs are safe and supervised, voluntarily undertake a duty of supervision.
Civil Remedies Available to Minors
In addition to common law claims, there are several federal laws that codify crimes of sexual violence in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, some of which were enacted as part of The Child Abuse Victims’ Rights Act of 1986. Specifically, sections 2241(c), 2242 and 2243 all deal with sexual abuse. Section 2255(a) provides civil remedies to persons who, while a minor, were victims of enumerated crimes involving sexual abuse, molestation, and exploitation. Remedies under Section 2255(a) include a minimum $150,000 per violation and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Section 2255(a) does not specify that victims are only allowed to pursue a lawsuit against the perpetrator. In Doe v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., 860 F. Supp. 2d 1337 (S.D. Fla. 2012), the Court declined to dismiss two counts of a complaint that sought to hold Royal Caribbean strictly liable for its crewmember violating section 2251(c), 2252(a)(4)(a) and 2242(2)(B). Although Royal Caribbean argued that the statute only permitted the plaintiff to sue the perpetrator, the court found that as drafted §2255 did not preclude the plaintiff from seeking to hold Royal Caribbean liable for its employee’s conduct. Thus, in cases involving acts perpetrated by crew members against minor passengers, our cruise ship child molestation attorneys also file suit against the cruise lines for civil penalties under §2255(a).
Recommendations for Parents
- Visit the kids club areas before registering your children.
- Request to be notified if your child is leaving the kids club area.
- Talk to your children about any new friends and acquaintances made on the cruise.
- Be especially alert to your children’s whereabouts the last night of the cruise.
What to do if Your Child is Sexually Assaulted
- Seek immediate medical attention for your child in the form of a forensic examination by a qualified medical professional. Do not allow your child to shower and do not wash their clothes or bedding. Keep their clothes in a new paper bag (not in a Ziploc or plastic bag). Doing so may damage or destroy critical evidence. The medical staff is required to notify the ship’s Security Officer if you’ve not already done so.
- Report the incident to the ship’s Security Officer immediately. Do not leave your child’s side. If you are required to leave the room for any reason, demand that any interview or statement be videotaped. Takedown the names of all people you talk to officers, medical personnel, witnesses, etc.
- Notify the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard immediately. You can reach the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. at 202-324-3000, while the emergency numbers for the U.S. Coast Guard are: (1) Atlantic Area Command Center (for Great Lakes, Gulf, and East Coasts) – (757) 398-6390; (2) Pacific Area Command center (for the Hawaiian, Alaskan and Pacific Coasts) – 510-437-3701.
- Get the names and contact details of all passengers with ANY information, i.e., anyone who saw or heard any of the events. Don’t forget the passengers in neighboring cabins who may have heard something.
- Take photos of your child’s injuries and of the scene of the incident.
- Take your child to the nearest rape treatment center upon disembarking the ship. The FBI and/or local law enforcement should meet the ship upon its arrival.
- Your child’s instinct will be to dismiss what happened and pretend it is all okay. Obtain counseling and medical care for your child’s psychological and physical injuries.
- Obtain counseling for yourself. You cannot take care of your child’s needs if you do not care for yours as well.
- Lastly, and as soon as possible, call or have someone on your behalf call a law firm specializing in the field of Admiralty and Maritime law who is familiar with cruise ship rape and sexual assault claims involving minors.
Let Us be Your Advocates
The cruise ship child molestation attorneys with Brais Law Firm are here to zealously represent you. Our principal office is in Miami, Florida, but we also routinely meet with clients throughout the United States and in a satellite office in Boston, Massachusetts on an appointment basis. The firm’s Board Certified, “AV” Rated Martindale Hubbell, and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates are here to help. To see if the firm can help you call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., 305-416-2901 from within the State of Florida, or click Contact Us to complete a no-obligation form for a free evaluation of your case.
Links & Resources:
- Jackson Health System “After a Rape”
- Florida Domestic Violence/Rape Crisis Centers
- Healthy Place “Date or Acquaintance Rape”
- Rape Treatment Center – Santa Monica, ULCA Medical Center
- The National Center For Victims Of Crime
- International Cruise Victims Association