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Woman Alleges Sexual Abuse by Royal Caribbean Cruise Employee Caught on Surveillance Footage

It's been a rough year for the cruise ship industry. From a showboating captain who jumped ship after crashing off the coast of Italy to passengers falling down steps and dying to outbreaks of norovirus and other diarrhea-inducing ailments, the industry has seen its fair share of woe.

Now, a woman is claiming that she was sexually assaulted on a New Year's Eve Royal Caribbean Cruise that left from Fort Lauderdale and that the company is "turning a blind eye to the cruise industry's dirty secret -- the risk of sexual assault on passengers."

According to the federal lawsuit, the woman asked an employee where she might find a towel. The guy led her toward an employees-only area, but then went into a woman's bathroom, where he allegedly assaulted and battered the passenger.

The woman claims she broke free and escaped the bathroom only to be pulled back in and further assaulted.

The woman, identified only as S.M. in court documents, claims that surveillance videos captured the struggle, yet Royal Caribbean hasn't been forthcoming with the evidence.

When contacted by New Times, Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said the "alleged incident was immediately reported to the FBI and local law enforcement in St. Kitts." Martinez added the security crew onboard the ship at the time preserved all evidence, including the security footage.

However, S.M. claims in the lawsuit that the company simply booted the employee off at the next stop, has refused to identify him, and refused to say what, if any, legal action it took against him.

The suit claims that the company's handling of the situation is "wanton, willful and outrageous."

Michael Feiler, the attorney representing the woman, didn't return a call seeking comment.

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Chris Sweeney

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