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Florida To Start Prosecuting Crimes On Cruise Ships

Disney Dream in portFor the last twenty or thirty years, crimes that occurred on a cruise ship that were not serious enough to involve federal authorities, the event usually "disappeared" into a pile of paperwork and the crime went unpunished. However, due to recent findings that show many serious crimes are not being reported, including that of a molestation of an 11 year old girl on the Disney Cruise Line, Brevard State Attorney, Phil Archer, has stated that Florida is willing to exercise its jurisdiction to extend to these crimes, even if they exceed the three mile limit for Florida waters.

The Case

A local news channel exposed many different events occurring on cruise ships that dock at Port Canaveral. However, the one that has sparked the most interest and concern, leading the State Attorney to issue a statement, is that of the 11 year old girl who was allegedly molested on a Disney Cruise ship.

The event, which actually took place while the Disney Dream was still in port, was not reported to authorities until the following day, after the ship had left. Disney conducted a formal inquiry only 1 hour and 40 minutes after it occurred. Ships personnel took a statement from the 11 year old girl, corroborated the story with surveillance tapes, and identified a suspect. 

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Authorities on the Disney ship did not report the man until it reached the Bahamas, where the ship is officially flagged. At that time, the waiter was questioned by the police in the Bahamas, admitted to the event, and was sent home to India on a plane paid for by Disney.

Had the crime been reported in Brevard County as it should have, this admitted child molester could have faced a life term for committing a lewd and lascivious act on a minor under the age of 12. He could have also faced charges for unlawful restraint because the event took place in an elevator and the girl had no way to escape.

Disney has issued a statement that they did everything in context of the law.

Jurisdictional Issues

Maritime laws are very overlapping and confusing in most cases. Some laws pertain only to ships when they are in a port because they may be registered to another country. Other laws apply in international waters, and yet even different laws apply in foreign ports.

The Supreme Court of Florida, however, has previously ruled that Florida can prosecute a crime that occurs on a ship that happens outside of the three mile limit

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