(MIAMI) — A family from Iowa is suing Norwegian Cruise Line in a civil case after their 12-year-old daughter was allegedly sexually assaulted by one of the ship’s crewmembers in her cabin. A jury trial in Miami last February found the accused not guilty, according to documents obtained by ABC News.
The girl, who was identified as H.P. in civil court documents, was “sexually assaulted, sexually battered and sexually abused” as she napped in her cabin aboard the NCL Escape on Feb. 16, 2017, around 1 p.m., the civil complaint said.
The lawsuit alleges that Norwegian was negligent in properly screening its staff and providing stewards with master keys to access each passengers’ cabin.
The suit references NCL’s safety and children programs, saying the cruise line “invites parents to rely on the cruise line to provide a safe environment for children,” and that “alongside our well-trained staff, your children will experience a wide range of exciting activities with kids and teens they own age.”
The family is suing for damages in excess of $75,000, excluding interest, costs and attorney’s fees. The alleged incident caused the girl to suffer “bodily injury, emotional distress, mental anguish, pain loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, medical and psychological expenses,” the suit said.
“The family is pretty much devastated by this,” the family’s lawyer told ABC News.
Norwegian Cruise said it “cannot comment on legal matters.”
It is unclear if the crewmember is still working for the cruise line.
The crewmember entered cabin 15858 as the girl was napping, according to the suit. He then began to sexually abuse her until she moved to the other side of bed, the suit said. When the crewmember left the room, the girl ran next door to find her family and friends, reporting the incident to them, the suit said.
According to a February 2017 criminal complaint obtained by ABC News, the FBI was made aware of the incident from the cruise line after it was reported to them by the girl’s parents. Once the parents notified Norwegian Escape’s security team, the crewmember was “confined by the Escape’s captain until the vessel returned to the Port of Miami,” the complaint said.
The FBI referred ABC News to court records when asked for comment.
The cruise line provided security footage of the crewmember entering cabin 15858, and both the employee and the minor were interviewed, according to the complaint. The security footage matched the timeline of what was said from each interview, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, the crewmember admitted that he made contact with the girl and was later charged with sexual abuse and sexual abuse of a minor.
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