Teen Speaks Out About Statutory Rape by Carnival Cruise Employee
When Darla and Enoch, who asked that their last names not be used, took their then 14-year-old daughter on an eight-day Caribbean cruise, the family never expected their dream vacation would turn into a nightmare.
After having trouble falling asleep one night during their 2009 Carnival cruise, Taylor said she left her parents’ cabin and went alone to an upper deck of the ship “Freedom” to write in her journal.
It was there, she said, that Heri Krispiyanto, a 30-year-old Carnival cruise line employee from Indonesia who waited on the family during meals, found her and then raped her.
“He pulled me into an employee-only room,” she said. “I asked him what he was doing and he told me that he was going to take care of me.
“He raped me, I kept saying, ‘No,’ but he didn’t care,” she said of the alleged rape. “He told me not to tell my parents, and he just unlocked the door and let me go.”
After it was over, Taylor said she was shaken and afraid as she returned to her parents’ cabin, but she didn’t tell them what had happened.
“It’s hard to say it,” she said through tears. “My dad’s birthday was the next day. It’s too hard to say.”
Having no idea what had happened to their daughter, Darla and Enoch continued to enjoy their vacation, as Taylor said she lived with the nightmare in secret.
“At that point, I just really wanted to die,” she said. “I was angry about that, that had happened to me. We’re supposed to be on vacation. We’re not supposed to have to worry about somebody trying to murder us or rape us.”
Even after returning home to Oklahoma, Taylor kept the incident a secret from her parents for the next three months until she became severely depressed.
“I had some thoughts about suicide,” she said. “So I decided to tell my mom because I needed help.”
After Taylor finally told her parents in August 2009, they were horrified.
“When that happened, I felt like there was nothing that I could ever do anymore,” Enoch said.
A False Sense of Security?
While on the cruise, Darla and Enoch said they never worried about safety because they thought there would be security on the ship.
“You think about drowning,” Darla said. “You go through the safety with the lifeboats and the life jackets. You think about being on an island and someone stealing your purse. When you’re on a ship, you don’t think about [sexual assaults]. You think you’re safe.”
Mark Gaouette, a former head of security for Princess Cruise Lines and author of the book, “Cruising for Trouble,” said passengers often will have a false sense of security once they step onto cruise ships.
“There’s a party atmosphere on a cruise ship,” he said. “The passengers don’t believe that there’s any real issues or dangers to their safety until a serious crime occurs.”
Gaouette added that cruise ships don’t have enough security onboard.
“Sexual crimes are probably the No. 1 reported on cruise ships,” he said. “The great majority of these crimes are committed by crew members.”
When Enoch heard about his daughter’s alleged rape, he called the FBI but, by then, Krispiyanto was back in Indonesia. Nine months passed before the FBI located him at a U.S. port, while he was working for a different Carnival cruise ship.
Charles Lipcon of Miami, a cruise ship litigation attorney whose law firm represented Taylor and her family, said when the FBI first interviewed Krispyanto, he denied any wrongdoing.
“The FBI gave him a lie detector test and the waiter flunked the lie detector test,” Lipcon said. “Then the waiter said, ‘Oh, yeah, I did have sex with Taylor, but it was consensual.’ Well, you can’t have consensual sex with a 14-year-old. They’re too young to consent and that’s what led to the prosecution.”
Lipcon and Taylor’s family sued Carnival for sexual assault committed by a crew member. Krispiyanto later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sex abuse of a minor and is serving a 3-year prison sentence in Seminole County Jail in Orlando, Fla.
For Taylor, that wasn’t good enough.
“No, because that’s not what he did,” she said. “He raped me. They arrested him and they put him in jail but he got 37 months. I have to deal with this for the rest of my life.”
Lipcon said he hears from new victims of cruise ship crimes every day, with the greatest increase coming from passenger-on-passenger crime. Prosecutions for these crimes are incredibly rare, he added.
Lipcon Says Cruise Ship Crime Convictions Are Rare
“[Taylor’s case was] the first conviction I’ve seen in handling these cases for 35 years or so,” he said. “One conviction in 35 years. What kind of deterrent is that?”
A Carnival cruise line representative released a statement to ABC News apologizing again to Taylor and her parents: “We go to tremendous lengths to ensure a secure and enjoyable vacation environment for the more than 4 million passengers who sail with us each year. … We are truly sorry that this tragic crime occurred and again want to express our deepest apologies to the victim and her family.”
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) also told ABC News in a statement that its members have a “zero tolerance” for crime.
“While serious crime on cruise ships is rare, one instance is one too many, which is why our industry adopted a zero-tolerance policy years ago,” the statement said.
Said attorney Lipcon: “To me, they are not demonstrating a zero tolerance. Actually, I think they’re going the other way … demonstrating a great tolerance for crime.”
Statistics for crimes at sea are difficult to find because, until last summer, no government agency had been responsible for tracking crime on cruise ships, and cruise lines were not required to report them.
Gaouette, the “Cruising for Trouble” author, said passengers need to be aware of that because ships are often registered in foreign countries, so they’re not subject to the same laws as in the United States.
“Families and vacationers on cruise ships should be aware that when they’re on a cruise ship, they are sailing on a foreign country and that they should assess their risks accordingly,” he said.
Safety on cruises has become such a huge issue that Congress held hearings in 2006 and 2007 where they asked victims of alleged cruise ship crimes to testify. In July 2010, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was passed and signed into law.
The law now requires cruise ships to report all allegations of crimes to the U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI, maintain functioning electronic surveillance cameras and use rape kits to collect evidence in cases of sexual assault, among other provisions.
Chairman of the International Cruise Victims (ICV), Kendall Carver, said his organization strongly backed the cruise vessel law.
“Our goal is that there be accountability for crimes on a cruise ship, as there would be at any resort here in the U.S.” he said.
Taylor, now 16, and her family settled their suit out of court with Carnival, and agreed not to disclose the settlement amount. However, they refused to sign a gag order, because, they said, they wanted to speak out about their horrible experience.
“Cruise ships don’t have enough security,” Taylor said. “And parents don’t go on the cruise ship and say, ‘You know, my child could get raped when I go on this cruise.’ But nobody thinks about that.”
Statement from Carnival Cruise Lines to ABC News:
Nothing is of greater importance than the safety and security of our guests and we go to tremendous lengths to ensure a secure and enjoyable vacation environment for the more than 4 million passengers who sail with us each year.
Our shipboard security professionals, who are trained in part by U.S. law enforcement, our employee screening processes, and strict rules and policies surrounding employee and passenger conduct, are all designed to keep our guests safe.
We maintain an excellent partnership with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, clearly demonstrated by our role in assisting to bring Hery Krispiyanto to justice. We are truly sorry that this tragic crime occurred and again want to express our deepest apologies to the victim and her family.
The cruise industry supports the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act and is committed to doing everything possible to ensure a secure environment for our guests.
Originally Posted at: www.abcnews.go.com