Cruise Ship Rape in the News

Maritime Lawyer Charles R. Lipcon Named World’s Best Prosecutor of Cruise Lines
January 2, 2010

Maxim Magazine named Charles Lipcon the World’s Best Prosecutor of Cruise Lines. Charles was featured in article entitled “Wet and Wild”. The article was an expose of some of the dangers on the high seas. Charles was quoted as the authority on maritime law and cruise ship assault prosecutions.

The cruise lines only have to report crimes involving Americans to the FBI, and even those are underreported. The cruise lines don’t want their passengers or their crew members to be crime victims.

Charles Lipcon, Maritime Attorney, said “The cruise lines only have to report crimes involving Americans to the FBI, and even those are underreported. The cruise lines don’t want their passengers or their crew members to be crime victims.” The public statistics show the FBI opened 184 cases of crimes on cruise ships between October 2001 and February 2007, including 101 sexual assaults, 12 missing persons, and 13 deaths.

Charles Lipcon is a maritime attorney with the law firm of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A This firm handles many cases against the cruise lines both for passengers as well as crew members. Charles Lipcon has also been featured as a top Miami Maritime Lawyer by Florida Trend’s Legal Elite and a top attorney by Super Lawyers.

Charles Lipcon is the author of one of Amazon’s top 30 selling travel books, Unsafe on the High Seas. This book details some of the dangers of cruise ship travel from assaults to missing people. It also covers the victim’s rights and how they can defend themselves. The book does not try to persuade you into not taking a cruise, but rather teaches you how to cruise safer. The book can be ordered from

About Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A is a Miami, FL, Law Firm focusing on maritime and admiralty personal injury claims against cruise lines and other boat owners. Lipcon’s maritime lawyers represent passengers and crew injured on ships worldwide.

Cruise boozing slammed
December 23, 2009

Celebrity Cruise Line has once again received flack for ‘promoting a binge drinking culture’ after launching an ‘all you can drink’ offer on a number of its cruise ships. These special packages are designed to let cruise passengers to drink as much as they wish, during a cruise, from as little as £20 per night.

The packages range from £20.75 per night for a much beer as you can swallow, through to £89 per night for the ‘Captain’s Package’ which includes specially selected premium wines. A drinks package that offers such strong choices as bourbon and vodka, costs £31 per night. While Celebrity says that it wishes to promote sensible drinking, several charities and anti-alcoholism groups have criticised the cruise line for encouraging people to drink excessively. Their concerns are based on the fact that it can be very difficult to keep track of who much you have drunk if you’re simply showing a pass to a bartender, and that the effects of over-drinking can lead liver damage, infertility, a range of cancers and depression.

However the results don’t have to be long-term to be disastrous: it’s claimed that recent problems in Antigua where cruise passengers fought with police and were left behind in custody when their ship sailed, may have been due to alcohol. And of the 130 people who have jumped off cruise ships in American waters in the past 15 years, at least half had been drinking heavily before they chose to enter the water, and while many are recovered, some are never found again: in March 2008 a woman jumped from a cruise ship off Key Lago during an argument with her boyfriend. Her body was never found.

Woman ‘buzzed’ night of alleged cruise ship attack
November 11, 2009

A Kansas City woman who claims a headwaiter for a Princess Cruise Lines ship sexually assaulted her when she was a passenger told jurors today in Los Angeles federal court she was “buzzed” the night of the alleged attack.

Portuguese national Jorge Manuel Teixeira, 39, is charged in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles with aggravated sexual assault. Federal law allows for the prosecution of those accused of attacking U.S. citizens on the high seas.

In court today, the alleged victim told jurors she was traveling last March with her grandmother on a 14-day Princess cruise between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.

During the trip, she said, Teixeira asked to meet her for “a date” in one of the ship’s restaurants at 11 p.m., after diners had left.

The 42-year-old woman said she agreed to meet Teixeira in a dimly lit corner of the dining room for late-night drinks.

“He looked striking and was in good shape,” she testified today.

The two split a bottle of white wine, she told the federal jury.

“I am sure I was buzzed but I did not feel out of control,” she said today.

At some point, the headwaiter forced her to perform a sex act and attacked her, she said.

“This was aggravated sexual abuse,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reema M. El-Amamy said at a previous hearing. “This was a crew member who met a passenger on the ship and proceeded to sexually assault her.”

Teixeira, who had worked on cruise ships for 18 years, denies attacking the woman, but admitted that after meeting with her, he touched her leg and “another part” of her body as they left the table, according to court papers.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Stephen D. Demik said the passenger’s account of the night only raises questions, describing Teixeira as a “family man” with two children in Portugal and no history of violence.

After the alleged attack, the woman said she did not know who to turn to.

“I was scared — and I did not know who to trust at this point,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to another (ship) employee.”

If convicted, Teixeira faces a potential life prison sentence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

At a bail hearing in March, the headwaiter was deemed a flight risk and ordered held until trial.

Prosecutors said that while the alleged attack took place in waters far from U.S. shores, federal authorities have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes on the high seas involving American citizens.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday.

PE woman tells of rape ordeal on luxury liner

By Nicky Willemse
February 19, 2007

A PORT Elizabeth woman’s dream job working on a cruise liner in the Caribbean was transformed into a nightmare experience when she was allegedly raped by a fellow crew member.

And 18 months later, she is still haunted by the experience and waiting for some semblance of justice to be done.

After having been repeatedly fobbed off by the company which had contracted her to work in the liner’s spa, she now fears the matter has been “swept under the carpet”.

From the outset her case was dealt with with scepticism by both Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Steiner Transocean, which operated the spa on the liner Explorer of the Seas.

Days after reports of the incident came to light, Taryn, 26, (who asked that her surname be withheld) was told by the ship’s management that, because she had had a few drinks on the night of the attack, her side of the story was “not as believable” as her alleged assailant’s – and she had “no right to accuse him (of rape)”.

She was then told to get off the ship and sent back to South Africa and to this day the company refuses to tell her if any action was ever taken against her assailant – who hails from East London – saying the matter is “confidential”.

But Taryn’s story is not unusual and each year thousands of young South Africans apply for jobs on international cruise ships. Cruise Alternatives, one of several SA recruitment agencies specialising in cruise ship jobs, places up to 500 South Africans on luxury ships a year.

However, the jobs are not always as attractive as the recruitment marketing portrays them.

US-based maritime law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, which specialises in cases against cruise lines, says it has obtained a list of sexual assaults from Royal Caribbean amounting to 173 over three-and-a-half years. Of these, not one person has been prosecuted.

“Sexual assault on cruise ships is common,” lawyer Charles Lipcon told Weekend Post this week.

He said the fact that the ships were in international waters made it easier for perpetrators to get away with their crime.

“I refer to it as ‘open season on the high seas’. I believe sexual predators are learning that nothing happens to them, so assaults are increasing.

“In my opinion, they (cruise ships) go out of their way to cover up these crimes to avoid bad publicity or their own liability.”

Taryn, a beauty therapist, worked in the slimming and detox section of the liner’s spa, while her alleged rapist, a fitness instructor, worked in the ship’s fitness centre.

“We were friends. The ship community is very close-knit – everyone becomes like family.”

The night of the assault, in August 2005, Taryn was in the crew bar when the fitness instructor laughingly removed from her jeans’ back pocket the key-card to open her room.

“I got up to go and get it, but he ran away. I didn’t think much of it – I thought I’d just spend the night in a friend’s room.”

But, checking her own room later that night, she saw her door was unlocked. “I thought it was my room mate, but then I saw he was sleeping in my bed.”

She lay down on the bed next to him and fell asleep. “I know I shouldn’t have walked into the room, but I trusted him because we were like family.”

Speaking through tears, she said: “I woke up in the early hours of the morning… he was on top of me. He got aggro when I told him to stop, and I started shouting. I was too scared to move – I just lay there.”

She stayed in her room for the whole of the next day, trying to make sense of what had happened. She even phoned him to talk about it, but he brushed her off. It was only later that night, speaking to her room mate, that she admitted to herself that she had been raped.

After that, she ignored him, but wasn’t sure how to handle the matter. “I felt scared and guilty.”

A month later, the deep change in her countenance was picked up by her spa manager, who had just returned after a holiday. After some probing questions, she asked Taryn if she had been raped. “I just burst into tears.”

The spa manager encouraged Taryn to report the matter to the ship’s human resources department. She was then called to a meeting with top management from both the ship and the spa. “They told me there were two stories, his and mine, but his sounded more believable, because I had been drinking.

“I wasn’t plastered, and I know he had been drinking too. The fact remains that I told him to get out of my room, but he didn’t.”

She was then given two options: to drop the matter, or take it further, but she was told that would mean the CIA and the FBI getting involved.

Feeling intimidated, she said she did not want “the whole of the US involved”, but she wasn’t prepared to drop it either. She then agreed to management’s suggestion that the matter be passed to Steiner Transocean.

The spa manager got in touch with Steiner Transocean’s head office in Miami, which operates spas on a number of cruise ships – and Taryn was given an hour to leave the ship, which was in dry dock at the time. Before she left, Steiner Transocean agreed to pay for any counselling and medical expenses.

Once back in South Africa, she tried to find out from Steiner Transocean whether any steps had been taken against her attacker, but was told that the matter was confidential.

This was the same response given to Weekend Post this week. “No employee can know whether any action was taken against another employee,” said Steiner Transocean spokesman Bob Boehm. “The allegations were taken very seriously, and we took steps that were deemed appropriate.” He would not provide further details.

The company’s head of claims and risk management Elizabeth Junco later said the FBI investigated all incidents in international waters.

She said they had conducted interviews with crew members who worked with Taryn and the fitness instructor and “concluded that the allegations could not be substantiated”. She said Taryn was sent home “for her own safety”.

Royal Caribbean did not respond to several emails or phone messages.

Gropers: Women fight back

The Charleston Gazzette
September 01, 2006

FORMER movie muscleman Arnold Schwarzenneger was notorious for groping women sexually. But he wasn’t arrested. Instead, California voters elected him governor.

Various West Virginia politicians and public officials have cost taxpayers millions by pawing unreceptive women employees or visitors in government offices, resulting in sexual harassment lawsuits. But the politicians didn’t pay the damage settlements – West Virginians did.

Now a Parkersburg woman, Kimberly Dean Edwards, is striking back at this odious pattern. She’s suing, getting political help and demanding federal law changes.

While she was on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate her 40th birthday, a drunken fellow passenger came into a women’s restroom of the ship and asked her to pose for a photo with him. Two ship employees held the restroom door open, and another man clicked a camera. Edwards went along with the clowning – until the drunk grabbed her breasts. She was infuriated.

Afterward, she was infuriated more when ship officers did little to the groper, and even threatened to arrest her if she confronted him. Returning home to West Virginia, she contacted the International Cruise Victims group, and also asked Gov. Manchin for help. He forwarded her case to West Virginia’s members of Congress. Rep. Alan Mollohan co-sponsored a bill to force cruise lines to report crimes at sea or face federal fines. Edwards also is suing Royal Caribbean cruise line.

Some vain, stupid men think they’re Tom Cruise or Casanova, and that all women would be delighted by their attentions. We hope the Edwards case helps bolster women’s defenses against such unwanted crudity.

Cruise crime victim gains political support for fight

By Sarah K. Winn
Staff writer
August 30, 2006

Kimberly Dean Edwards recounts how a fellow passenger sexually assaulted her.

Kimberly Dean Edwards recounts how a fellow passenger sexually assaulted her in 2004. Now, with the help of some West Virginia lawmakers, she and the International Cruise Victims organization are battling for legislation to make cruise lines accountable.

Kimberly Dean Edwards wanted to spend her 40th birthday relaxing on a four-day Royal Caribbean cruise.

“The first two days were a dream trip,” the Parkersburg resident said. “Now, I want my 40th birthday back.”

During her 2004 trip, Edwards said, a male passenger sexually assaulted her in a women’s restroom while two crew members watched and did nothing.

“What seemed to be innocent, drunken fun for him began the nightmare for me,” she said.

When the man first entered the women’s restroom, she laughed it off.

“‘You do know you are in the ladies’ room?’ I asked,” she said. After agreeing to pose for a picture with the man, the man began fondling her while another man snapped pictures, she said. Two ship employees, a man and woman, stood at the bathroom door, holding it open, she said.

Following the assault, she told her then boyfriend and now husband, Mike Edwards, who went to talk to the employees and security. For the next two days, they did little to help, even threatening to arrest her after she confronted the man who assaulted her, she said. The man was allowed to roam freely, although she was told he would be confined to his room, she said.

Edwards’ story is not unique. With the help of the International Cruise Victims organization, she is lobbying to make cruise lines responsible for the crimes that happen on board. And her efforts in West Virginia are paying off.

After Gov. Joe Manchin received a letter from Edwards, he sent letters to federal representatives encouraging them to talk to Edwards and support the efforts of the ICV.

“The governor’s primary concern is that all American citizens aboard [cruise ships] have all the protections available to the them by law,” said Manchin’s spokesman Tom Hunter. “Every constituent’s concern the governor takes very seriously.”

Manchin is the first governor to issue such support, Edwards said.

Also, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., has signed on to co-sponsor bill HR5707, which will require cruise lines to report crimes at sea within four hours or face heavy fines.

“No matter where or when a crime occurs, it should be fully investigated and prosecuted,” Mollohan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many victims of cruise ship crimes have a different experience. Their ordeals have been made worse by callous treatment – or even disregard – from those who should have been assisting them. This legislation would ensure that crimes are reported and would begin to provide victims with the justice they deserve.”

Called the Cruise Line Accurate Safety Statistics Act, the bill was introduced in June by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., as the original co-sponsor.

Now, Edwards wants other West Virginia legislators to get on board, especially Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., who serves on a transportation subcommittee. She wants Democratic Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller to propose a similar bill in the Senate, she said.

Edwards is already pursuing some recourse, with a civil suit pending in Miami against Royal Caribbean. She is also looking for a lawyer to help with a suit against her assailant before the statue of limitations runs out in October.

Her involvement with ICV has helped her battle the aftereffects of her assault, including nightmares and a fear of public restrooms. “I just felt so alone in this,” she said.

She has become close with the family of George Smith IV, who disappeared off a Royal Caribbean ship in July 2005. She wears a button with his picture. Smith is one of many who have disappeared while on cruises. She tells her story for those that can’t or don’t have the courage, she said.

“Every day, I look at their pictures on the Web site, they are the people that are gone,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I’m committed to changing the laws so cruise ships are held accountable and treat victims with the respect they deserve.”

Carnival Cruise employee arrested on sex charge

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times

published February 8, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE — A Carnival Cruise Line employee was held without bail Friday on charges he raped a passenger aboard the Legend as it neared Port Everglades.

Made Wirawan, a 24-year-old native of Indonesia, was charged with sexual battery and burglary with assault or battery, Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said.

A 28-year-old woman said a man entered her cabin while she was sleeping early Thursday and raped her. The Legend, returning from an eight-day Caribbean cruise, was 7 miles out at sea.

After reporting the attack to Carnival security personnel, the woman was able to identify Wirawan as the attacker, police said. Wirawan allegedly used a master key card to enter her room.

The woman, who lives out-of-state, was taken to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale for tests.

Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for the cruise line, would not comment on the case.

Cruise Passenger Says Ship Employee Raped Her

February 8, 2003

A Carnival Cruise Line crew member was arrested by the Broward County Sheriff’s Department on charges that he raped a passenger aboard the Legend as it returned to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said the 28-year-old female victim was asleep around 5 a.m. when the crewman, Made Wirawan, 24, used a master key to enter her cabin. Once inside, the crewman raped the woman as the cruise ship returned to port in Fort Lauderdale. The Legend was returning from an eight-day Caribbean cruise.

The victim reported the incident to Carnival’s onboard security personnel. After identifying Wirawan, a native of Indonesia, security guards detained him until the ship was docked and the sheriff’s department responded, Coleman-Wright said.

The woman, who lives out-of-state, was transported to the Sexual Assault Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale for tests. She then returned to her home state to recover from the assault.

The Carnival crewman was arrested and and jailed in Fort Lauderdale on charges of sexual battery and burglary with assault or battery.

Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Miami-based cruise line, confirmed the crewman was a shipboard employee of Carnival. She would offer no other comment about the sexual assault.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A was responsible for handling the lawsuit that ensued and obtained a settlement prior to trial. Due to the nature of these types of cases, all settlement amounts are confidential. Please take a look at some more of the cruise rape and sexual assault cases the firm has handled. Contact us if you have been the victim of a rape or sexual assault on a cruise ship and let us put our experience to work for you.