By Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com
A woman is suing a Miami-based cruise line after she alleged that one of its employees brutally raped her while at sea in June 2015.
The woman, a 46-year-old native of North Carolina who has declined to give her name, said in her lawsuit against SeaDream Yacht Club that she was violently raped by a Portuguese bartender during a trip through the Adriatic Sea on June 24, 2015.
She says that the company should be held liable for failing to provide a safe environment for its passengers.
The alleged victim is seeking $25million in damages as well as a jury trial against the bartender, Rui Manuel Duarte Guerreiro.
The woman, who was a frequent traveler on the cruise line, and Guerreiro were prior acquaintances.
They had met numerous times on other trips.
The woman and another friend had taken a seven-night journey with SeaDream in June 2015. In the middle of the trip, it docked at one of its destinations – Dubrovnik, Croatia.
On that same night, the woman said that she had taken her usual regimen of sleeping pills and a seasickness tablet given to her by a concierge, according to the lawsuit.
When the woman and her friend went to the piano bar, she recognized the bartender who had just come aboard.
She said that Guerreiro gave her a glass of water to drink with her pills in addition to a ginger drink and a glass of wine to help her feel better.
Soon afterward, she says that her memory begins to ‘get fuzzy’ and that she had drifted in and out of consciousness.
Her friend had apparently left her at the bar with Guerreiro, who had promised to escort her back to her room safely, according to the lawsuit.
After the two were left alone in the bar, Guerreiro is alleged to have closed the blinds, dragged the woman behind the bar, and raped her vaginally, anally, and orally.
‘He was raping me in all areas possible and I was crying and I was asking him, ‘Why are you doing this to me? You are hurting me’,’ she told the Miami Herald.
The woman was dropped off in her room. Soon after, she alerted the doctor, but there was no rape kit on board.
She also claims that she had asked to speak with the captain, but he never came to see her.
Eventually, the trip ended as the ship docked in Venice, Italy.
The woman told the Herald that the incident left her traumatized.
‘For a while I was in the depth of darkness,’ she said. ‘If there is anyone that even slightly resembles the way that he looks, it takes my breathe away.’
‘If I’m in the bedroom, my husband has to let me know in advance before he walks in the door.’
‘I’m now a member of a club I didn’t wish to become a member of.’
The law firm representing the woman – Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman – specializes in maritime claims.
Michael Winkleman, the plaintiff’s attorney, says that his client was left with no choice but to sue because the incident happened in international waters and the alleged rapist is a foreign national.
He said that sexual assaults on cruise ships have reached ‘epidemic’ levels.
‘The vast majority of these cases resolve with confidentiality provisions and that of course is because the cruise lines have a very strong interest in keeping these types of tragedies quiet,’ Winkleman said.
SeaDream Yacht Club declined to comment.
Guerreiro has so far not responded publicly to the allegations.