Articles Posted in Statutory 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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