Cruise Ship Rape & Sexual Assault

John Travolta Accused of Sexual Assault on Royal Caribbean Cruise


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is made up of attorneys who are nationally recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of cruise lawyers has well over two centuries of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients. Several of our attorneys have even been selected to “Best Lawyers” ® by US News & World Report every year as far back as 2016.

Sexual assault happens aboard cruise ships from time to time, and studies have shown that people are up to 50% more likely to be sexually assaulted on board a cruise ship than on land. Our cruise sexual assault attorneys frequently represent victims in such cases. A study of crimes reported on cruise ships from 2003-2006 showed that it is by far the most prevalent crime reported at sea: Some 86% of the crimes reported during that time were sexual assaults. It’s not every day, though, that such a crime is alleged to have been committed by a celebrity who is virtually a household name.

That is exactly what’s being alleged by cruise ship employee Fabian Zanzi. Zanzi has alleged that while John Travolta was on a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2009, he was the victim of an act of sexual assault. Zanzi was appointed to be Travolta’s attendant. In executing those job duties, Zanzi claims that Travolta engaged in a non-consensual sexual act. The allegation is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by the cruise ship worker in federal court which categorizes the contact as harmful and offensive. Zanzi is also alleging that Travolta tried to cover it up with a $12,000 bribe in exchange for silence on the matter, according to a news report in the Times of India.

Travolta, meanwhile, has responded, denying that any of the allegations are true, and admitting only that he was in fact aboard the cruise ship. His attorney issued a statement to the media that suggested Mr. Zanzi was trying to get famous from a baseless allegation. It isn’t the first time that Travolta has been accused. Two male masseuses alleged that Travolta had engaged in improper sexual misconduct against them, but they later withdrew their suits. They could re-file the suits in another court, but to date that has not been the case.

Royal Caribbean may be at fault, too, if Mr. Zanzi’s allegations have anything to them. Zanzi’s lawsuit alleges that when he attempted to report the incident, he was not allowed to write anything down regarding the type of the misconduct. He claims that cruise line management prevented him from filing a proper report. Many companies in the cruise industry—not just Royal Caribbean—have shown their willingness to delay in reporting crimes, and hiding the true nature of malfeasance on the high seas. The evidence hasn’t been presented yet, so we don’t know if that is the case in this incident. Our cruise sexual assault lawyers have successfully represented thousands of clients over the years. When the cruise ship companies know they are at fault or have handled a situation poorly, they do what they can to keep things very quiet. For our clients, the good news is that we have the experience in litigation and pre-litigation settlement to rely upon the proper statutes and enforce rights for the injured under the law.

Sexual assaults at sea are more common than the cruise industry would like us to think. The atmosphere on board a cruise ship is one of fun and partying. Many people go on cruises to meet other singles, specifically for the purpose of looking for intimate relations. If that doesn’t pan out, it stands to reason that an atmosphere is created where the likelihood of a sexual assault is higher than amongst the general public on land.

We have represented a number of victims in cases of sexual misconduct at sea. Victims who are American citizens or residents have the right to report the incident and have it subject to an investigation by the FBI even though the vessel flies a foreign flag of convenience. Normally the flag country is responsible to investigate but Congress has extended federal jurisdiction to crimes at sea involving Americans. The cruise lines are obligated to provide for the safety of passengers as well as crew members on their vessels. Hearings on the Travolta allegation, meanwhile, are forthcoming.

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