Articles Posted in Sexual Assault

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During a Valentine’s Day Cruise on the Holland America Line cruise ship “MS Nieuw Amsterdam”, cruise employee, Ketut Pujayasa, 28, who is an Indonesian citizen, savagely raped, beat and attempted to kill an innocent 31-year-old female cruise passenger.

As is often the method used by cruise employees who sexually assault female passengers, Pujayasa gained access to the passenger’s stateroom using a master key issued to many crewmembers, which give access to every single stateroom throughout the ship. Once inside, he hid on the balcony of the room. Moments later, the passenger returned to her room, where she was jumped on by the crewmember. According to the latest reports, he beat her with a laptop, and a curling iron. Once he thought he had physically won his victim over, he used the curling iron’s cord and the phone’s cord to choke the woman. Fighting for her life, she was able to loosen the grasp of her assailant by kicking his exposed genitals.

Ketut Pujayasa mugshot.jpgAt that time, Pujayasa told the FBI that he attempted to kill his agonizing victim by throwing her over the railing of the stateroom’s balcony. That is when knocks on the room’s door scared him away and he escaped by climbing out of the room, into another balcony. The victim ran out of her room half naked, with the cord of the curling iron still wrapped around her neck and body.

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According to the following report filed by Orlando local station WKMG-Channel 6 last night, Disney Cruise Line knowingly delayed to report a sexual molestation crime to local police last summer. Rather than possibly be sitting in jail awaiting trial right now, the crewmember was allowed to fly back to his home country of India with a clean criminal record. Below is the chilling story reported by WKMG reporter Tony Pipitone.

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This report would be only chilling if it was not customary for crimes in general and sexual crimes in particular to be unreported or widely under-reported. Since the passage in 2010 of a mandatory reporting law of crimes occurring on cruise ships, the number of crimes has inexplicably decreased. One could leap to the conclusion that cruise ships are becoming safer and safer with time, but that would be the wrong assumption. In reality, when a crime occurs on a cruise ship, the cruise line has sole discretion to categorize an incident as criminal in nature. No one doubts that crimes aboard cruise ships is not the best publicity. Especially sexual molestations on minor children aboard a Disney cruise! So the cruise line must find a way to minimize and lessen the number of crimes it reports to the competent authorities. So a cruise line will categorize a crime as a non-criminal event and bypass the reporting laws.

The other way cruise lines have hidden the true frequency of crimes on their ship is by threatening victims. We have reported on several occasions that alcohol consumption aboard cruise ships is on the rise. Invariably, more alcohol being consumed translates in more fights and physical assaults. When the victim of an assault comes forward, the security officers will offer the victim to report the incident to the local authorities and press charges against the assailant at the next port. But the caveat is that, in order to do so, the victim must disembark the ship (sometimes with their entire party) and return home without further assistance from the cruise line. Faced with additional aggravations and a very deterring option, most victims choose to remain on the ship, and the crime goes unreported.

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Untditled.jpgCruise Ship Lawyers Blog reported last month that Casey Dickerson was arrested on rape charges. Dickerson was accused of having organized, initiated, and participated in the gang rape of a minor child while on a Carnival cruise, sailing on the Carnival Sensation.

The terrifying detail of the attack were disclosed here after Cruise Ship Lawyers Blog obtained a copy of the criminal complaint filed against the 31-year-old married man.

This week, a federal grand jury heard evidence and testimony surrounding the events that took place on August 19, 2012, in the ship’s cabin U-212. The grand jury rendered its decision and indicted Dickerson on multiple sex charges. The defendant has been held in a Central Florida jail since his arrest on August 20, despite Dickerson claiming he did not have sex with the young child and that he was drunk at the time with limited recollection of the events.

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Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg obtained the complaint filed in Federal Court against Casey Dickerson on August 20, 2012. The investigation and interviews conducted by Federal Special Agent, Christopher Williams, describe a savage attack on a defenseless and inebriated minor child. The complaint is available below for download.

According to the complaint filed in the Middle District of Florida, Casey Dickerson, 31, was a passenger on the Carnival Sensation that left Port Canaveral on August 16, scheduled to return at the same port on August 19. Dickerson and his wife were originally assigned to stay in cabin E-153. Due to Dickerson’s spouse complaints about noise, Carnival reassigned the couple to cabin U-212. Somehow Casey Dickerson retained possession of the key card of the first cabin and right to use both cabins.

200600006506.jpgOn August 19, Carnival contacted the FBI to report an alleged sexual assault on a minor female passenger that occurred during the early morning hours of August 19, 2012. Special Agent Williams met with the victim immediately after the ship docked in Port Canaveral. The young girl provided gruesome details on what she went through that night. The victim, along with a female friend of hers, who is also 15, and four other male minors that she knew, went to Dickerson’s cabin U-212.

Once inside the cabin, the victim said that she was held down by Dickerson and some of the other males, and all took turns raping her. While the attack was going on, the victim’s female friend was being held by one of boys in the cabin’s bathroom. At one point, the victim said that Dickerson was having vaginal sex with her, stopped, and walked to the bathroom door to make sure the friend would not come out and tell the boy who was inside the bathroom with her to “get it on” and to “show her a good time”. While at the door, Dickerson also encouraged the two other boys who were holding the victim down to “switch” and take turn raping the victim.
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Casey Dickerson, a 31-year-old married man, was on a Bahamas cruise with his wife. The large ship, Carnival Sensation, departed from Cape Canaveral last Thursday. Dickerson was arrested by the FBI at the end of the cruise on charges of raping a minor girl in his cabin.

During a very strange camera interview conducted in jail, the alleged rapist said “the cruise was great.” Apparently unaware of the seriousness of the alleged crime, he admitted that he bought alcohol for a group of underage teenagers and invited them to his room. That is where the alleged attack took place.

According to investigators, Dickerson was approached by a group of teenagers to buy them alcoholic drinks. On Carnival ships, the legal drinking age is 21. Dickerson apparently agreed and bought alcohol before inviting the group to party in his room.

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A 27-year-old woman, traveling with her family, was allegedly raped by a crew member during an 11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on board the Celebrity Equinox.

Celebrity-Equinox.jpgThe details of what happened are still under investigation, but some facts were reported by the London Evening Standard.

According to the victim who reported the crime to her parents and to the captain, she and the crew member shared some drinks with the young woman. Tired, she walked back to her cabin and after she made it clear that she was going to sleep. At that moment, the nameless crew member, who had followed her, pushed the woman inside her cabin, threw her on the bed, and performed multiple sex act against the woman’s will.

After she was seen by the ship’s doctor, the captain of the ship reviewed video surveillance footage of the ship and observed the victim sharing drinks with the crew member, as well as the alleged assailant following the passenger to her cabin. He ordered his crew to hold the alleged rapist until the ship arrived in the next port. Upon docking in Messina, Sicily, the man was handed over to the police, with a copy of the video footage.

Upon breaking the news, a Celebrity Cruises released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving a British guest on one of our ships and she has opted to continue her cruise. We are liaising with the relevant authorities.”
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The odds of becoming the next cruise passenger victim of a sex crime are unknown.

You and your family decide to go on a cruise to celebrate a special occasion at sea. The luxurious and glamorous temptation of spending a week on a majestic cruise ship is understandable, and for all you know, a quite safe way to spend some quality and relaxing time with your spouse and teenage children.

Two months after coming back from the cruise, your 15-year-old daughter courageously confesses that while alone in her cabin on the cruise ship, a crew-member unlocked her cabin door using a universal key card, and forced her to perform several sex acts. She kept quiet and did not tell anyone until today, because she did not want to ruin the family vacation.

That horrendous event is unfortunately not as uncommon as one may think, and certainly not as uncommon as the cruise industry would like you, potential customer, to believe. Yet, that is exactly what happened in 2010 to a 15-year-old girl and her family while on board a Royal Caribbean cruise in New Zealand, as reported by CNN below:

After years of hearings, committees, and disputes over the lack of statistical data on crimes occurring on cruise ships, Congress finally gave birth to a new law, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act. This law aimed notably at forcing the cruise industry to to abide by new requirements of transparency, including the requirement to report to the FBI all crimes that occur on their ships. The passage of the new law was deemed a bipartisan success, and the essential step in the right direction to finally have a crime database that could be used in the future to improve the security and safety of cruise passengers.
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Cruise Ship Lawyers Blog was first to report the alleged sexual assault that occurred during a 10-day cruise aboard Royal Caribbean operated ship the Allure of the Seas.

Luiz Scavone was charged last January with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a 15-year old female passenger. Initially, Scavone plead not guilty and attempted to post bail in order to wait for trial in Brazil, his home country. You can read our previous posts on this incident here:

scavone-original_resize.jpgCruise Ship Passenger Raped Aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas

Alleged Cruise Ship Rapist Asks Judge to be Released

Alleged Rapist of Cruise Passenger Luiz Scavone held without Bail

Last week, Scavone plead guilty to the battery charges and was sentenced to one year in jail. Once released, Scavone will have to register as a sex offender and will be deported to Brazil immediately.

Even though Scavone’s family and lawyer claimed that the 15-year-old teenager consented to having sexual relations with the 20-year-old, the facts of the incident were never questioned. According to the prosecutor, the teenager was lured by Scavone’s little brother (15) to Scavone’s cabin under false pretenses. The young girl thought she was going to a small party cabin and to meet other friends. She realized once the door closed behind her that she was alone with Scavone and his little brother where it is alleged they took turn raping the minor cruise passenger.

allure of the seas rccl_resize.jpgThe next day, the parents of the victim alerted the crew. The FBI and local authorities were called and arrested the Scavone brothers as soon as the ship arrived in Fort Lauderdale.

The criminal case against the younger of the two Scavone was completed several weeks ago and he is now back in his home country. His brother, Luiz Scavone, will not be back in Brazil before he spends the balance of his sentence behind bars.

Judge Matthew Destry was faced with an important decision early on in the criminal trial, having to rule whether Scavone could be freed on bail. The State of Attorney’s Office argued that it would be ill-advised for Scavone to be allowed to post bail because they could not prevent him from leaving the country and returning to Brazil while the charges were pending. To their point, a recent amendment to the Brazilian constitution provides that Brazilian citizens are not to be deported to a foreign country when criminal charges are pending against them. In other words, allowing Scavone to post bail and leave the USA would have meant that the teenager’s attacker would never be punished for the alleged rape.
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On December 23, 2011, Royal Caribbean crew member, Fabian Palmer, sexually abused a minor child who was 14 years old at the time. This is the latest event that has led to criminal charges for sexual acts committed on cruise ships this year.

fabian palmer.jpgFabian Palmer, a Jamaican national, was a Royal Caribbean Cruises employee and worked on the Enchantment of the Seas. Palmer was assigned to maintenance of the vessel’s pool areas.

On December 17, 2011, the family of the victim boarded the cruise ship from Baltimore, Maryland, for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. For several days, Palmer interacted with the 14 year-old girl, sharing written notes, until the evening of December 23rd when Palmer invited the minor passenger to follow him in one of the deserted male locker rooms of the ship at approximately 11:30pm.

The criminal complaint filed by the FBI in Maryland details how Palmer led the 14 year-old to one of the bathrooms of the male locker room and locked the door behind them. Palmer undressed the girl and engaged in multiple sexual acts despite the girl’s protests that she was hurting. Palmer only stopped when another crew member knocked on the door of the bathroom and discovered the “couple”. The next day, Palmer saw the 14 year-old and told her not to say anything to anyone about what had happened or he could be in trouble.

FabianPalmerMugshot.jpgAccording to the FBI, video surveillance cameras captured footage of Palmer leading the minor into the male locker room and into the bathroom. The footage also shows the other cruise employee knocking on the door and all three leaving the male locker room shortly thereafter.

Palmer was interviewed by Royal Caribbean after the end of the cruise. The FBI was alerted in late December and a criminal complaint was filed against the 25 year-old on January 4, 2012.

On March 22, 2012, almost three months after the events, Palmer plead guilty to having had sex with a minor child under the age of sixteen. As part of his plea agreement, Palmer will be registered as a sex offender in his place of residence, for any future job and any time he enrolls as a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
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Norwegian cruise line crewmember, Senad Djedovic, was arrested on February 27, 2012 by the FBI for possession of child pornography.

This came about approximately four weeks after the assistant cruise director aboard the Norwegian Star met with a 16-year-old female passenger during a seven-day cruise that began on January 29, 2012. The FBI has alleged in its criminal complaint that Djedovic, 29, pursued her sexually and ultimately had sexual relations on March 5, 2012 with the child in one of the staircase of the ship.

senad-djedovic.jpgAfter the cruise ended, Djedovic exchanged photos and videos of a sexual nature with the 16-year-old using his work email address. Other crewmembers became aware of the situation after Djedovic bragged about the fact that he had sexual relations with the female child and even showed some of the photos he had received from her to fellow co-workers.

Djedovic was arrested by the FBI as soon as they were aware of the situation. After his arrest, the FBI’s search of Norwegian’s assistant cruise director’s private computer revealed videos categorized under folders named “12 yrs old”, “15 yrs old”, and “16 yr old”.

Today, Djedovic is in jail awaiting trial on charges of Child Pornography.

Charges for statutory rape were not filed because of the applicable laws in this matter. At the time the sexual relations between the child and the 29-year-old employee occurred, the ship was presumably still outside Florida’s territorial waters where Florida criminal law applies. Had the ship been in Florida territorial waters, Djedovic would have been charged with statutory rape because the age of consent in Florida is 18. Being that federal law applies in this case, Djedovic cannot be charged with raping a 16 year-old because the age of consent under federal law is 16.

Under certain circumstances, Florida law can apply for crimes occurring on the high seas. In Skiriotes v,. Florida, the US Supreme Court held that states may exert criminal jurisdiction over their citizens on the high seas under certain circumstances, provided that Congress has not preempted the field. To read more about those special circumstances, read The Long Reach of U.S. Law over crimes occurring on the High Seas, written by Leesfield Scolaro’ maritime law attorney Robert Peltz.
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