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Is Sexual Assault Common Aboard Cruise Ships?


“Common” is a relative term, but cruise ships are easily exploited by sexual predators due to jurisdictional problems that occur in national waters. To be certain, the United States will hold any American citizen accountable for the crimes they commit in foreign territories. But not every country works like that. It’s also true that sexual predators will operate with less caution in places where they don’t have social ties. Most people aboard cruise ships only have social ties to their family and then interact with random members of the public, most of whom are there for the same reason, just to have fun and relax.

Sexual predators can take advantage of cruise ships and that appears to be why there are a larger number of sexual assaults aboard cruise ships than in general. The cruise industry, however, says that these reports present a distorted image of the cruise industry’s safety record. Almost every sexual assault that results in a lawsuit is broadly reported by the media, while incidents in which no sexual assault has occurred is obviously, not going to make headlines. Hence, the public is trained to associate sexual assault with cruise ships and the prevalence of sexual assault aboard cruise ships may be no greater than in other vacation spots. On the other hand, sexual assault tends to be among the least reported crimes.

Reports of sexual assault 

Today, cruise lines keep and post statistics of reports of criminal activity aboard their ships. One cruise line stated that there were 173 reports of sexual assault or rape over a 5-year period. However, no prosecutions emerged from these reports. According to the FBI, sexual assault remains the leading criminal activity at sea. 55% of crimes reported to the FBI involve allegations of sexual assault.

So, thus far there should be two takeaways. Firstly, jurisdictional problems make prosecuting sexual assault aboard cruise ships quite complex, and secondly, if you are the victim of a crime aboard a cruise ship, it is more likely than not that the crime will be sexual assault.

Filing sexual assault lawsuits against cruise ships 

There are two types of sexual assault lawsuits filed against cruise ships. The first involves employees of the cruise line committing sexual assaults against passengers. In these cases, the passenger does not need to prove that the cruise line was negligent. They need only establish that the sexual assault occurred. The cruise line is “strictly liable”.

Other cases involve passenger-on-passenger violence. In these cases, the passenger must prove their case on the basis of negligent security. These cases are harder to win and prove which is why they are seldom litigated and don’t make headlines. The plaintiff must establish that the cruise line did something or failed to do something that would have prevented the assault.

Talk to a Miami Cruise Line Injury Attorney Today 

Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford represents the interests of those injured aboard cruise ships. Call today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your allegations today.

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Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

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