Reporting Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships

Although statistics show that sexual assault is the number one crime on cruise ships, cruise lines continually fail to protect passengers and crew members from sexual predators, and then they neglect to thoroughly investigate those incidents that are reported.

Under U.S. Maritime Law, cruise operators are obligated to report crimes and accidents that result in serious physical injuries. However since it is the Cruise Line itself that makes the determination of whether or not a crime was committed they get to also determine whether the sexual assault will be reported or not.

Then there are also times when the victims themselves hesitate to report the matter out of fear. It is not uncommon for a sexual predator to threaten his victims with their lives or those of their loved ones, especially young children who may not be fully aware of the implications of a sexual assault, if they tell anyone about the what happened to them. This is exactly what happened to me. Not only did my assailant threaten my own life, but he threatened those of my parents, my siblings and even my dog if I told anyone what he had done. I was only 12 years old, not even able to fully understand what had just happened. The only thing I knew was that I didn't want my loved ones to get hurt. I kept happened a secret , even from my parents.

It was two years before I finally had the courage to reveal my rape and sue the cruise line. And even though the Cruise Line did not believe me at first when I said a crew member had touched me. I now wish I had done something sooner, but being only 12 at the time it happened, I was scared. I hope that sharing my story will give other victims courage to come forward and to know that they have a right - by law - to report any sexual harassment or assault.

Even for victims who aren't threatened, embarrassment may get the best of them and stop them from coming forward and revealing the truth. Some victims may keep their pain to themselves for so long that they may even start to believe they brought the tragedy upon themselves - which couldn't be further from the truth. No matter what the individual circumstances surrounding the assault may be, anyone who has been sexually violated should never feel as though they are to blame. The only ones at fault are those who believe it is acceptable to force themselves sexually on another person.

It is critical that victims know they have a right to not only report a sexual crime without fear of retaliation, but also to seek legal help with an experienced firm, Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, PA. Under U.S. Maritime Law, the FBI has jurisdiction over crimes committed at sea if the victim is a U.S. citizen and if the ship sailed out of a U.S. port. Though cruise lines often under-report sexual crimes to the FBI to avoid taking responsibility for incidents, victims have the right to contact the FBI directly and are encouraged do so as quickly as possible in order to preserve the scene of the crime and to prevent the offender from escaping persecution by fleeing the vessel at the next port of call.

Victims also have the right to speak with a cruise ship sexual assault lawyer to discuss their options in filing a case against either or both the perpetrator and the cruise line. Since the majority of sexual offenders on the high seas are the ship's own crew members, cruise lines may be held liable for the wrongful actions of its crew, regardless of whether the offender was on duty when the attack was committed or not. Cruise lines may also be held accountable for their failure to provide an overall safe shipboard environment, which an experienced attorney will fight for in court.

Cruise lines, crew members and anyone who has engaged in nonconsensual sexual conduct on the high seas can be held liable for a sexual crime and may be ordered to pay damages to victims for their pain and suffering. If you or a loved one were sexually assaulted on a cruise ship, it's imperative you understand that justice is on YOUR side. Reporting a sexual crime and retaining legal counsel will not only increase your chances of securing compensation for the incident, but will help bring your attacker and the cruise lines to justice.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. handled my cruise ship rape case and I highly recommend them.

Nothing can ever fully compensate a sexual assault victim for the experience of a sexual attack, but with the help of a cruise rape lawyer, you can at least find some peace in knowing that you did everything you could to hold those responsible for your attack liable for their crimes and that because you reported the incident, you may prevented the assailant from hurting anyone else.