Crime On Cruise Ships

A cruise on the Disney Cruise Line's Dream turned into a nightmare for a 13-year-old female passenger who was allegedly molested while on board the ship by a crew member. The crew member, Ahmed Sofyan, a resident of Jakarta, Indonesia, was arrested this week in Florida at the Port of Canaveral; after being accused of molesting the girl during a four-day family cruise to the Bahamas.

Sofyan was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment and kidnapping. Currently he is in jail in Brevard County. At this point, it is unknown how long he has been employed by Disney Cruise Lines nor what his duties were aboard the Dream.

After his arrest, Disney Cruise Lines president Karl Holz issued the following statement:

"We have no tolerance whatsoever for the behavior alleged in this incident . . . . We are sorry that anything of this nature could have occurred on one of our ships. We place enormous value on the trust our guests have in us, and nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of each and every one of our guests."

This case should serve as a warning to all parents that they must be constantly vigilant with their children while on cruise ships; just as though they were vacationing with their family at a hotel in a large urban city. Cruise ships can seem like safe resorts for children and parents --who are also in need of a vacation -- and want to believe that their children, teenaged and younger, are safe to wander the ship.

As a maritime injury attorney, I strongly suggest that parents never leave children and young teens alone and while on a cruise ship. Cruise ships crimes are frequently not reported publicly. According to the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act only those cruise ship crimes reported to and closed by the FBI have to be disclosed to the public. Since not all cruise ship crimes are reported to the FBI and the FBI keeps many investigations open the vast majority of criminal incidents that occur on board ships are never reported.

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