Did Princess Cruise Lines have a serial sexual predator working aboard one of its ships?
According to California resident Marisa Foppoli, who filed a lawsuit earlier this week in Los Angles Superior Court against the third largest cruise line in the world, the answer is yes.
It was the wee hours of the morning last January, Foppoli claims, when a man who worked aboard the "Island Princess," cruising from Acapulco to Florida, grabbed her and pulled her against him.
Foppoli says the man began groping her and tried to kiss her, before forcing her toward a deserted part of the ship. Foppoli claims she tried to ward off her assailant and slip away, but he physically prevented her from escaping.
Once the crew member, whose name is unknown, according to the lawsuit, pulled Foppoli into a secluded area, he allegedly held her against a counter top, hiked up her skirt and touched her private parts. Foppoli says she was then able push the crew member off of her and run away.
Foppoli not only says that she was sexually attacked, but that the man had a "prior, similar incident of misconduct" while employed aboard one of Princess' ships.
This is not the first time someone has complained about sexual assault aboard a Princess Cruise Lines vessel. In March 2009, the FBI arrested a waiter at the Port of Los Angeles and charged him with aggravated sexual abuse after the alleged victim reported that she had shared some wine with the waiter and was then assaulted.
The waiter, however, was later acquitted of the charges after testifying that the sexual encounter was consensual.
Much has been written about the safety of passengers aboard cruise ships, and several years ago a professor Ross Klein from Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada apparently studied statistics provided to the U.S. Congress by the industry and found that passengers run nearly twice the risk of being sexually assaulted aboard a ship than they do on land.
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Ross also claimed that almost 70 percent of sexual assaults on cruise ships are perpetrated by crew members against guests.
In her lawsuit, Foppoli claims that she immediately reported the alleged attack to the ship's authorities and that she understands that the offending crew member was put off the ship.
Still, she contends, the crew member's actions were "despicable, representing wanton, willful, and outrageous conduct, subjecting [her] to cruel and unjust hardship, and was carried on with malice and conscious disregard for ... [her] rights and safety."
Princess Cruise Lines spokeswoman Julie Benson said the company does not comment on pending litigation.