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Accident Law Blog | Cruise Ship Accidents | Los Angeles Cruise Ship Personal Injury

Could Enhanced Cruise Ship Safety Bill Have Stopped the Rape and Murder?

Cruise Worker Accused of Raping and Attempting to Throw A Passenger Overboard

Ship at sea
Cruise ship

A cruise ship worker has been accused of raping, beating and trying to throw a passenger overboard Friday morning. Many of our readers already know the chatter on the Hill.

And that is that the industry can easily target potential sponsors of the enhanced Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. Some pundits say they can be bribed for perhaps as little as $25,000 in campaign contributions.

In other words, they could vote “no” to upset much-needed legislation. In other words, in exchange for advertising money, many politicians will refuse to protect U.S. passengers.

Does this prove money can buy anything? We will keep digging up facts on donations and vote shifting. Afterward, we will report back. At any rate, you can decide.

In any event, on 2/11/14, Rep Corrine Brown argued with Rep John Garamendi over issues like whether the cruise industry should be forced to install man overboard systems. After all, they have been required by law to do so since 2010 under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

Where are the Teeth?

Since there were no enforcement provisions with teeth, the cruise industry has refused to implement many provisions of the 2010 Cruise Ship Safety Act. Only one organization, ICV, or the International Cruise Victims is doing the legwork to fix the problems with the last bill.

But they are an anomaly. These laws need enforcement provisions. In other words, they need teeth. Teeth mean a fine or a penalty. Right now it is a waste of time to pass laws that are ignored with impunity.

Since there were no enforcement provisions with teeth, the cruise industry is just not implementing many of the provisions of the 2010 Cruise Ship Safety Act. Only one organization, ICV, or the International Cruise Victims is doing the legwork to fix the problems with the last bill. But they are an all-volunteer crew of victims who, on their dime, lobby DC.

DC and the Downtrodden Victims.

I was fortunate enough to have lobbied with these downtrodden souls on the last round of tromping through the halls of Congress seeking support. But let’s face it, the cruise industry has billions, and victims on their own, cannot pay $25,000 to a re-election campaign for some politician, or many.

Those are the grim, cold facts. In any event, Garamendi called for enforcement of protections that are already required under U.S. Laws, but that are not being enforced, and Brown went so far as to accuse Garamendi of “grandstanding.”

Is Lost At Sea a Consequence of No Man Overboard System?

Many of us attorneys at Ehline Law have suspected that a percentage of these “lost at sea” cases arose from a crew or a crew-member or passenger raping someone. Why? Because with no man overboard system the rapist would toss a person overboard, leaving no trace. Cruise lines are notorious for failing to turn over digital and video images of crimes aboard cruises. Even when the FBI demands them, the cruise lines have pushed back. But why?

Throwing a Body Over the Side Covers Up Crimes.

So it is a no-brainer that a criminal eliminating a body overboard would quickly cover up a crime. In any event, the 2010 Bill required all cruise ships to install “man overboard systems.” It is now 2014 and still nothing. But the cruise industry seems to be putting out two stories. This regard why the lines never recognized the four-year-old law. (Read more here.)

Garamendi went on to retort:

“I think it’s time for the consumers, millions of them, who are getting on these ships to know what they’re getting into,”. He is the ranking member of the subcommittee overseeing maritime transportation. “To know the history, the good and the bad, of an individual ship” he said.

Female getting raped
Rape on a cruise ship

On the heels of the legislation above failing, another cruise member was arrested Sunday and has been identified as Ketut Pujayasa, age 28, a worker from Indonesia.

And of course, he was attempting to toss a severely brutalized rape victim overboard. Sound familiar? The incident occurred on the MS Nieuw Amsterdam early Friday morning in the international waters off of the coast of Roatan, Honduras, authorities said.

The MS Nieuw Amsterdam cruise liner departed from Fort Lauderdale on February 9th. From there on it was a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise. The attack victim was a female. Her attacker was “Pujayasa.”

What are the Victim’s Allegations?

The raped woman said she was attacked in her stateroom. As a matter of fact, the cruise ship employee attempted to throw her from her balcony. So we can see there is an understanding by this employee that disposing of the woman is key to avoiding jail. In any event, all these facts appear in the criminal complaint. The woman said that she escaped from the cruise worker. After that, she was helped by another passenger.

Pujayasa was taken into custody when the ship returned to port at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. According to the report, Pujayasa was charged with aggravated assault and attempt to commit murder. He told investigators that he attacked the woman because she had “disrespected” him.

He said he left the woman’s stateroom, but then later turned himself in. So there you go. Honor killings, disrespect as a basis. Whatever you want to call it, these are ideas from backward cultures.

In a news release, Holland America Cruise Line stated that they are working with authorities and with the understanding of how the incident occurred they will take additional measures to ensure this type of event does not happen ever again.

Holland American Cruise Line CEO Stein Kruse said that at Holland American Line our highest priority is the safety of our guests. He stated that in the 140-year history of the cruise line to his knowledge there has never been an incident like this occur on one of the ships. Of course, he said that. What else would he say?

That “we have a history of covering up crimes, flying criminally accused employees back to their home countries so U.S. authorities cannot arrest them, etc.” This is just so laughable from our perspective.

See the Devastating Video.

Regulating the politically connected cruise ship industry has long been possible. But due to the fact these ships sail under foreign flags not from U.S. territories, the international maritime law applies. Also, contract law has made prosecuting a negligence claim against them much more difficult than land based cases.

Considering that most cruise ship passengers are North American, it stands to reason that most crimes are against them.

But thanks to ICV, the cruise industry is finding itself under increased scrutiny from sages like Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) who is at the front with Matsui.

Is The Hole In Security a Basis for Cruise Ship’s Liability?

Cruise lines know they are strictly liable. But they hold all the cards. If their employee tosses a body over the side, do you think they will be so happy to turn over the videotape? Think about it. That could cost the cruise lines millions of dollars.

The bottom line is, criminals know there is a hole in the security of ships that makes raping and tossing a drunk or passed out victim quite easily. Cruise lines recruit low pay help, often from countries that culturally teach an uncovered woman is a harlot or dhimmi to be raped and used.

For example, the defendant, in this case, hails from a country, Indonesia, where many men think that failure to wear a hijab is an “invitation to be raped.” (view source.) So imagine a person seeing Western women in bikinis for the first time, who is not properly vetted in accepting Western culture is different, etc. , being on board one of these ships.

  • Background Checks are a Joke.

There is often no way to conduct proper background checks on criminals. Is there even a computer background database in Syria? NO. What Somalia or Ethiopia. No!

What we do know is that many of the countries cruise ship employees hail from have no national system. And we also know that these countries are often archaic, male dominated societies bound by religious dogma. So many things like rape, aren’t even a crime unless there are three male witnesses, etc.

Imagine these people getting aboard the ship as employees and them seeing a blonde woman in a bikini. So now what a Westerner would consider a predator has boarded. Next, this person learns its layout.

After that, they discover strategies and tactics from fellow countrymen on how to get away with rape and murder. All that is left is a method on how to dispose of a body. Think like a lawyer. Follow the bodies.

Cruise Lines Should Not Hire From Countries That Don’t Respect Female Equality?

In my opinion, cruise lines are not doing enough to vet male employees. Imagine hiring a man who was taught his whole life that an uncovered woman is a harlot. This is exactly what occurs in many cases. So this hypothetical and others can easily take place. In fact, the cruise lines are tripping over a dollar to save a dime.

Cruise lines like to hire people who think $2 thousand dollars a month is a lot of money. So they are their worst enemy. They already can skirt U.S. tax laws. But the least they could do is install man overboard systems. That way they could make it harder for the criminally minded to get away with rape and murder “without a trace.”

Citations:

Cruise worker accused of raping passenger: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/19/cruise-ship-rape/5600565/

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