Sexual Assault Charges Against New Zealand Cruise Passenger Dropped

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

This week, charges were dropped against a cruise ship passenger accused of sexually assaulting a woman on the Ovation of the Seas. According to reports, the incident allegedly took place in New Zealand waters on January 3rd of this year, while the ship traveled from Tauranga to Dunedin.

The accused, Elias Azzi, is a 23-year-old demolition worker from Guildford, New South Wales. Azzi appeared in court on Thursday, March 29th, where he learned that the authorities did not see any reason to convict him, as they could not find further evidence to support the charges. The authorities offered no additional explanation and he was discharged under section 147 of New Zealand’s Criminal Procedure Act.

In the wake of this development, we are reminded of just how prevalent cruise ship rape and sexual assault can be. Unfortunately, these two crimes continue to be the most widely reported aboard cruises. And yet, even with this distinction, we are well aware of the fact that not all cases are actually reported to the appropriate authorities.

Cruise Ship Rape and Sexual Assault Must Be Thoroughly Investigated

After the release, Azzi’s lawyer explained, “He is extremely relieved to be completely vindicated of any assault, as you would expect.” While of course, any innocent individual should be released, we have some lingering concerns regarding the way in which potential evidence is uncovered.

Given the fact that we do not know the details of this specific case, we can only trust that the investigators did their best to ensure that they were as thorough as possible in uncovering any details that could have impacted their decision. There are a variety of factors that contribute to creating a strong case against an alleged attacker. However, if the incident is not investigated as soon as possible, much of this evidence could be lost or destroyed.

When a true incident is reported but not given appropriate attention or consideration, the results can be devastating–especially for the victim. For years, many cruise lines attempted to cover up the truth around rape and sexual assault taking place at sea in order to preserve their image as floating paradises, away from the hassles of daily life. And while we would never want this information to prevent anyone from embarking on a cruise, we do hope to inform potential cruise-goers as to the risks they could face and the ways to avoid becoming a victim.  Such measure include having a buddy system in place with a trusted travel companion, watching your drinks and keeping an eye on your children.

LMAW, PA Knows How to Help

If you do become the victim of rape and sexual assault at sea, you should immediately report the incident so authorities can be notified and medical care obtained.  You should, however, be aware that once reported, the cruise line will begin to take steps to protect itself.  This includes gathering evidence it believes will be helpful in defeating a potential lawsuit.

At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we have experience assisting clients with a wide range of cruise ship rape cases. This has made us especially sensitive to the obstacles you are facing, and adept at helping you overcome them, one step at a time. After all, no one should have to navigate the challenging legal landscape on their own, especially while healing from physical and emotional trauma.

Simply put, a cruise ship rape lawyer on our team is always here to help. With 100 years of combined experience in maritime law, you can rest assured that, when you work with us, you will be in good hands. Ready to take the next step and move past your legal burden? Contact us today to get started.