Sex crimes are the number one reported crimes onboard cruise ships. Whether the incident involves sexual harassment, molestation or even pornography, sexual crimes on the high seas are taken very seriously and must be reported to the FBI immediately so swift action can be taken to arrest and prosecute the suspect.
Last December, our cruise ship sexual assault lawyers recounted an incident aboard Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas involving an Idaho man who was found engaging in several counts of child pornography. And although there are many unfortunate times in which sexual assailants get away with their crimes, this time, justice will be served.
The suspect in question, Gary Lee Reed, 47, was caught with over 1,000 images of child pornography on his laptop, which he took he took onboard the vessel on Dec. 10, 2012 on a cruise vacation to the Bahamas. A federal complaint filed in Orlando allowed authorities to access Reed’s computer, where roughly 1,162 pornographic images and videos were uncovered – some of which depicted disturbing and horrific sexual abuse incidents involving toddlers and infants. According to federal authorities, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified roughly 350 of the children in the pictures and videos.
When arrested last year in Port Canaveral, FL, Reed admitted he has been viewing child pornography for several years. He was subsequently indicted on child pornography charges and entered a guilty plea in February. The perpetrator appearing in court this week and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for his sexual crimes.
Authorities did not disclose whether any of the pornography images or videos were of children sailing onboard the cruise ship, but if they were, due to the severe nature of the crime, the parents of any sexual crime victims have the right to consult with an attorney to determine their ability to file a case against Reed for not only engaging in sexual misconduct, but for doing so with minors.
Any type of sexual conduct that is not wanted or welcome, even something as minor as giving someone an innocent massage, can be considered a form of sexual assault and suspects are liable to not only pay compensation to victims, but may also be subjected to criminal persecution and jail time – especially if the victim is a minor.
Unfortunately, sexual crimes on cruise ships occur more frequently than anyone can possibly imagine. In fact, out of 206 crimes that were reported on cruise vessels in the three year span between 2003 and 2006, a horrific 86 percent involved sexual harassment or assault. And yet, despite the countless laws against sex crimes not just in the United States, but in nearly every country around the world that a cruise ship may call in, there are more suspects that get away with their crimes than those who are apprehended.
Cruise lines have a responsibility to report a sexual crime on the high seas as soon as it is uncovered to federal authorities, but because they try to avoid liability for such severe incidents, lines may either choose to sweep the case under the rug or delay in reporting the matter until outside of U.S. jurisdiction so they can hand over the case to their flagship countries – much the way Disney Cruise Line did with a recent case of child molestation by a crew member who was caught on camera inappropriately touching an 11-year-old girl.
Even though the offender was filmed engaging in the inappropriate sexual conduct with the minor passenger in an elevator and despite the child reporting the incident and Disney performing an investigation, the cruise line purposefully delayed in notifying Orlando authorities, despite the ship being docked in Port Canaveral at the time the incident occurred. As a result, the offender got away and the young victim may never obtain justice for her pain and suffering.
There are countless similar incidents that have taken place across cruise lines throughout the years, and because cruise lines are responsible for the safety of those onboard their vessels, if a sexual crime is brought to light, the line may be held at least partially liable to the victim for failing to protect them from harm.
Any passenger or crew member who has ever been subjected to inappropriate touching, verbal sexual harassment, pornography or cruise ship rape, has the right to turn to an attorney to file a case and procure damages for the unbelievable amount of pain a sexual crime can cause. It can often be an uphill battle to contest a cruise line alone, but with the help of an experienced attorney, perpetrators and negligent cruise lines will not get away with their crimes.