MyFox National Reports
MYFOX NATIONAL – Sex assault cases are the most common crimes aboard cruise ships, but they are rarely prosecuted.
But not in one recent case. The Coral Princess cruise ship had departed Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and was near the end of it’s 14-day Panama Canal cruise when sometime Saturday, a female passenger went to the ship’s staff and said a crew member had sexually assaulted her.
On Monday the employee was identified as Jorge Manuel Teixeira, a Portuguese citizen. He was arrested and is scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday.
Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise corporation, didn’t want to talk about the woman’s claim, but in a statement following the allegation, the company said, “We also put into place our crime response protocol including sealing off the area of the alleged assault, restricting the crew member to his quarters with a security posting and providing medical and other assistance to the passenger.”
When the ship docked in San Pedro, Calif., FBI agents boarded and questioned, not just the suspect but several passengers.
Within hours Teixeira was charged with one count of sexual assault.
In recent years, passengers have joined forces and testified before Congress to raise awareness about cruise ship assaults and about passengers who board ships, but never return.
Maritime lawyers say all too often, criminal suspects are not prosecuted, partly because cruise ships are registered in foreign countries, flying what are called “flags of convenience.”
Charles Lipcon, a maritime law expert, says, “These countries compete with each other to get business and one way they compete is to leave the owners alone so there’s very little oversight.”
But in this case, the cruise line and law enforcement seem to be on the same page.