Last June, an 11-year-old girl from Arizona was on the Norwegian Cruise Line Spirit when a steward used his master key to enter her family’s stateroom and rape her.
The girl’s family has filed a lawsuit that details the sexual assault and the horrible experience that occurred afterward.
According to Miami New Times, the 27-year-old male steward named as Clifford in the lawsuit was told by the family that the girl was resting and shouldn’t be disturbed, but instead he used his master key to enter the room claiming he was delivering laundry. He left and then returned later, claiming he was going to teach her to make towel animals. The lawsuit says Clifford was "grooming" the girl before the assault.
Clifford left again and came in a third time, picking up the girl and kissing her before leaving again. On the fourth visit, he raped her and when she told him to stop, he told her to keep the assault secret.
After the girl told her mother about the rape, they underwent a nightmarish experience when they reported the rape to Norwegian Cruise Line at 9:30 p.m., the evening of the offense. She and her mother went to the infirmary and was questioned by the staff captain, head of security and doctor – all men – for hours. They demanded she remove her clothes and undergo an examination.
They refused to let the 11-year-old girl and her mother, who are named as Janie Doe and Jane Doe in the lawsuit, leave until 1 a.m. in the morning. They’d been questioned relentlessly for almost four hours.
"At approximately 1 a.m., exhausted, humiliated and having been interrogated for more than three-and-a-half hours and after having asked on several occasions if they could leave, Jane Doe demanded at the top of her lungs that they be allowed to leave the ship's infirmary," says the complaint, filed last month in the Southern District of Florida. "Then and only then, did NCL's officers allow Jane Doe and her daughter Janie Doe to leave."
Keith S. Brais, the lawyer representing Janie Doe and her mother wrote in the complaint that Norwegian Cruise Line "fails to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of children in cabins" despite their marketing efforts to be “family-friendly.”
The lawsuit also notes that the cruise ship employees are not properly screened or trained and are given too much access, via master keys, to staterooms rented by families with children. There was no way to prevent the assault in Janie’s case as the suit had no deadbolt or chain lock. Clifford had full access to their room at any time and he took advantage of that to rape Janie Doe.
Norwegian Cruise Line has declined to comment about Janie Doe’s assault, which the lawsuit has described as resulting in "physical, emotional, and psychological injuries" requiring medical treatment.
The suit accuses Norwegian of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress toward the 11-year-old girl and her family.