For many people, embarking on a cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After all, cruise vacations are often quite lavish, and can require many years of savings in order to afford. As a result, cruises have gained the reputation of being floating islands of paradise, far removed from the trials and tribulations of life at home.
Unfortunately, the idea that cruises are immune to accident and injury cases is a myth. As a maritime law firm, we know that tragedy can and does strike when you least expect it. And the most common crime aboard cruise ships is rape and sexual assault.
While often the size of small cities, cruise vessels also have numerous areas that are less frequented and so more suited for incidents of sexual misconduct to take place. The reality of the matter is that, while you may be on vacation, you must still be aware of your surroundings, and be discerning with regards to the company you keep.
A recent story out of Houston reminds us that rape and sexual assault are not as uncommon aboard cruises as you may have thought.
On Thursday, January 19th, cruise ship waiter Gede Sukrantara was arrested for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl aboard the MS Veendam. Reports say that 26-year-old Sukrantara met up with the girl on the 12th deck of the ship, where they began to kiss. They then went to a bathroom, where the teen performed oral sex on him.
The next day, the girl reported the incident to staff. Currently, Sukrantara is charged with committing a lewd and lascivious act with a minor. The teen’s father has expressed his desire to press charges.
“The cruise line has absolute responsibility for crew on passenger sexual assaults. The law is very clear – the cruise line is vicariously liable for the crew member’s assault on this passenger,” explains board certified admiralty and maritime lawyer, Jason Margulies. “These types of assaults by crewmembers on teenage passengers has become common. The cruise lines should be doing a better job of monitoring and controlling the crew as well as warning parents of this very real danger when teenagers are permitted to roam the ship unsupervised by their parents.”
Safety Comes First
In the wake of this accident, we would like to take this opportunity to remind passengers of the importance of maintaining personal safety while aboard cruises. While it can be exciting to meet new people aboard the ship, it’s always safest to do so in well-trafficked, public places. Doing so decreases the chance of having the situation escalate to a point where one person feels powerless and falls victim to the desires of the other.
And it’s not just passengers who should be on the lookout. Unfortunately, cruise ship rape and sexual assault can and does happen to crewmembers as well. While it can be intimidating to consider reporting the crime, it is ultimately always a good choice. After all, you owe it to yourself to get the help you deserve, and to prevent the perpetrator from committing any more similar acts in the future.
With a trusted cruise ship rape lawyer on your side, the legal process will be much less difficult, and you stand a better chance of getting the justice you deserve. Our team has experience with cases such as the one described above, and we understand the way victims of sexual assault may be feeling after such a traumatic incident. With our client-focused approach, we listen to you and help guide you through the process, so that you are empowered to move forward with your life.
So, if you or someone you care about has become a victim of rape or sexual assault while aboard a cruise, do not hesitate to contact us.