The mother of a 14-year-old girl is suing MSC cruises after she says a crew member sexually assaulted and battered her daughter in a candy shop on a cruise ship.
The alleged incident happened inside the MSC Divina’s candy shop after the ship left Miami in March 2017 and was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of the eight-day cruise ports of call.
On Wednesday, both parties in the suit agreed to stop mediation efforts and to continue settlement negotiations. Court records say that if the case is not resolved before May 8, the two sides will reconvene mediation on May 8. A trial is scheduled for July 15 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Peter Hunt, an attorney with the Palm Beach Gardens-based maritime LaBovick Law Group, is representing the girl’s mother in the civil suit against Geneva-based MSC Cruises. He said that the popular MSC cruise line violated the International Safety Management Code by failing to protect its passengers from sexual assault and battery.
Incident reports on cruises
According to incident reports released by the Department of Transportation, sexual assault is the most common crime reported on cruise ships. In 2018, cruise lines reported 120 alleged crimes to the transportation department, including 82 alleged sexual assaults, Business Insider reported. By comparison, there were 22 thefts over $10,000.
And since 2016, there have been 220 allegations of sexual assault reported to the DOT, according to a report Tuesday in the Miami New Times.
The quarterly incident reports — which also include numbers for thefts over $10,000 (the second most reported crime at sea behind sexual assault), assault with serious bodily injury, suspicious death, homicide, kidnapping, tampering with the vessel, and missing U.S. nationals — touch every cruise line, including the big three: Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
In the quarter running from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, there were 22 reports of sexual assault on 12 cruise lines, reported in accordance with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Of these reported sexual assault incidents in the most recent quarter, Carnival Cruise Lines had the most reported incidents with eight, seven of which involved passengers and one reported by a crew member. Royal Caribbean was next with six, all passengers. There were no reported incidents of any kind on an MSC cruise in that quarter.