$25 million lawsuit claims woman was raped by bartender on cruise

Posted at 8:53 AM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-26 15:47:47-04

A yacht club is facing a $25 million lawsuit in Miami after a woman says she was raped by a bartender while on a 2015 cruise.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami this week on behalf of the 46-year-old North Carolina woman against SeaDream Yacht Club.
The club has its principal place of business in Miami but is incorporated under the laws of the Bahamas. An attorney for SeaDream Yacht Club said they have no comment on the lawsuit.

The suit claims the woman, a frequent passenger on the yacht club's voyages, was raped by a bartender on the ship on June 24, 2015. The woman said the man held her against her will behind a bar, closed all nearby windows and forcibly sexually assaulted her.
The woman, who only wants to be identified as Jane Doe, said she was on a 7-day cruise in the Mediterranean when the assault happened.

"Four nights into the sailing, the bar man, the head bartender, viciously and brutally raped and assaulted me," she told NBC 6.
During the incident she begged him to stop and repeatedly asked "Why are you doing this?" the suit said.
"And I went in and out of consciousness as I say, and three times I woke to him raping me either from the front, behind or various other positions," she said. "And I was crying, and asking him why he was doing this and you're hurting me and he didn't stop."
The woman's attorney, Michael Winkleman, said a rape kit was performed and a police report was filed in Italy.

"The criminal proceedings really haven't gone anywhere. She has attempted to press charges but nothing's been done against him criminally," Winkleman said. "[The kit] came back, there was clear indications that there was a rape that happened but it happened and they actually have her clothing."
The woman suffered physical pain and suffering and mental anguish, and says the injuries are permanent, according to the lawsuit.

"Dramatically in every every facet of my life has been changed. I can no longer just be the carefree person I was. I have to ask my husband to text message me if he's gonna come into a room when I'm there alone," she said.

"Sadly, these types of crimes on the high seas are far more common than you would think," Winkleman said in a statement. "When a passenger goes on a cruise, particularly a luxury cruise like SeaDream Yacht Club, they are entitled to have a reasonable expectation of safety and security. Clearly, that wasn’t the case here and this lawsuit seeks to hold SeaDream Yacht Club accountable."

Jane Doe says she doesn't just want money, she wants to see changes in security so her alleged experience isn't shared by anybody else.

"[I'm] disgusted, horrified. I want to see, I want to see justice, I want to see him held accountable, I want SeaDream to hold their hand up and admit to the wrong doing," she said.

Story from our news partner NBC 6 Miami