Although there are many times in which cruise ship sexual assault victims never obtain justice for the wrongs that have been committed, yesterday, one young rape victim was able to have at least some semblance of closure after her assailant was convicted in federal court.
Casey Dickerson, 32, was sentenced for his involvement in the August 2012 cruise ship gang rape of a 15-year-old girl while onboard the Carnival Sensation. Dickerson was sentenced in Orlando federal court to 20 years in prison with 15 years probation.
Dickerson was traveling with his wife on a Bahamas itinerary onboard the Sensation when the couple complained of a noise issue with the cabin they were assigned. Carnival staff gave the Dickersons another cabin, but allowed them to keep the original stateroom as well.
On Aug. 16, Dickerson and several teen boys met the victim and one of her friends, also 15, and took them back to the original cabin. Once inside, the young victim alleged Dickerson and the boys held her down and took turns raping her. The other teen girl was held inside the bathroom throughout the entire incident.
The boys that were involved in the gang rape have not been charged, and their identities have been withheld because they are minors.
According to previous statements, Dickerson claimed he did not remember what he had done because he was drunk at the time of the incident and pleaded for leniency in court on Monday.
“My life is on the line,” Dickerson told Judge Roy B Dalton, Jr. “I’m not the type of person the government thinks I am.”
Although Dickerson has no prior arrest record and apologized for making a “stupid decision,” he is lucky to not have gotten the maximum penalty, which would have been life in prison.
The victim, whose name was not released because she is a minor, is currently undergoing counseling to help her cope with the tragic incident. Her mother said she was satisfied with the ruling, believing the punishment was adequate for the crime.
“We’re all adults and there are consequences to our actions,” she said.
Unfortunately, there aren’t always consequences for cruise ship rapists.
Most cruise lines are registered in foreign countries, so they can divert responsibility for investigating accidents and crimes to those nations, which don’t always do a very good job (if any job at all) of catching the assailants. Foreign countries also rarely disclose any information regarding their cases to the U.S., so it can be years before a victim obtains any sort of closure.
However, when it comes to a severe crime, such as the rape of the young teen girl, cruise lines are required to report the matter to the FBI right away and must cooperate with all investigations. Sexual assault is the number one crime reported aboard cruise ships, but the cruise lines have yet to improve maritime safety to prevent these horrible crimes from occurring.
While there are federal laws that govern sexual assault incidents aboard cruise ships, there are still times in which the lines’ operators fail to report the matter right away, leading the assailant to get away, or fail to report the incident at all. Cruise companies know that once they report a sexual crime, there is a chance they may be found at least partially responsible for the incident for failing to provide a safe environment onboard their ships. This can cost the cruise line millions of dollars in both liabilities and lost revenue, so it is no surprise that cruise lines don’t always race to report the incident.
But despite the cruise line’s actions, it is important for all victims of sexual assault on the high seas to know they do not have to suffer in silence. Victims have the right to turn to a cruise ship rape lawyer to protect their rights and fight for justice.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our attorneys have represented hundreds of sexual assault victims – including both passengers and crewmembers. We know just how devastating a sexual crime can be, especially one that takes place at sea or in a foreign port, where a victim cannot readily obtain legal assistance. We strive to protect victims’ rights and help them obtain compensation for the pain and suffering they were forced to endure.