Doc­tor raped dur­ing women-only Caribbean hol­i­day

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Ali­son Smith-Squire For Mailon­line

Adev­as­tated doc­tor from the UK has told how she was bru­tally raped dur­ing a Caribbean hol­i­day and then of­fered a man­i­cure and mas­sage to cheer her up by the com­pany who ar­ranged her women-only break.

Ge­orgina Mor­timer booked the ‘dream hol­i­day’ to St Lu­cia with Girls for Sail, a com­pany ac­cred­ited by the Royal Yacht­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, but says she was at­tacked in the bed­room of her shared villa within hours of ar­riv­ing. Now, in a po­ten­tial land­mark case, the 45-year-old is tak­ing ac­tion against the hol­i­day com­pany and villa owner for neg­li­gence, paving the way for other tourists to sue private prop­erty renters.

Mother-of-two Ms Mor­timer, who has bravely waived her right to anonymity, said: “I woke up to find my­self be­ing stran­gled and raped by this to­tal stranger. I was ter­ri­fied. I hon­estly thought I was go­ing to die. I’d gone on a women only hol­i­day to learn to sail be­liev­ing I would be safe. I am dev­as­tated by what hap­pened and I am go­ing to do what I can to stop any other woman go­ing through this. “I am shocked a com­pany, which claims to em­power women by help­ing them learn to sail with­out men, has treated a rape vic­tim so badly. My life has been turned up­side down. I have hor­ren­dous flash­backs and feel trau­ma­tised.”

On their web­site Girls for Sail say they are the ‘only sail­ing school for ladies’ and they ‘take care of each other and main­tain a safe en­vi­ron­ment’.

It was on the sec­ond night of Ms Mor­timer’s £2,000 Girls for Sail hol­i­day in Fe­bru­ary 2016 that her night­mare be­gan. She was staying in one of the four bed­rooms at Sum­mer Breeze villa, a RYA ac­cred­ited sail­ing train­ing cen­tre, in the hills above Rod­ney Bay Ma­rina. Ms Mor­timer, who has daugh­ters aged 13 and 15, said: “I was not given a key for my bed­room door but two in­struc­tors were also staying there and I un­der­stood the front door would be locked each night. But I woke to find a mon­ster pin­ning me down in my bed at­tack­ing me, I thought I was go­ing to be mur­dered.

“The hand on my throat pressed down so hard I thought I was go­ing to pass out. I could hardly breathe let alone scream. I thought of my chil­dren and was de­ter­mined not to die. I lay as quiet as pos­si­ble be­cause I felt any strug­gling on my part could anger him enough to kill me. It was around fif­teen min­utes of hell be­fore some­one knocked at the door and my at­tacker fled.”

The po­lice were called and Ms Mor­timer went to hospi­tal to be treated for pos­si­ble sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, HIV bruis­ing and shock.

One of her best friends had planned to join her that day for the re­main­der of the hol­i­day but was ‘hor­ri­fied’ when she saw Ms Mor­timer.

Fight­ing back tears Ms Mor­timer said: “Girls for Sail even ad­vised me not to tell other women ar­riv­ing alone what had hap­pened in case it up­set them.

“I was in shock. Look­ing back I should have said some­thing. There was no sign of a break in, it ap­pears he walked straight into the villa but I was made to feel as though I’d done some­thing wrong.

“I couldn’t stay in the villa but they said they’d pay for us to stay in a ho­tel for one night, but not two.

“I was trau­ma­tised, I couldn’t cope be­ing there. No­body had both­ered to con­tact the Bri­tish Con­sulate for me so I did that my­self and they or­gan­ised an emer­gency flight home for me.”

Back in Hert­ford­shire, UK, the Ac­ci­dent and Emer­gency doc­tor was also hor­ri­fied to dis­cover there had been sim­i­lar sex­ual as­saults and rapes in St Lu­cia – in­clud­ing an at­tempted rape in a house a few miles away from her villa - but says there were no warn­ings is­sued to take ad­di­tional care.

She said: “I started to get an­gry. I had gone on a women only hol­i­day; you have an ex­pec­ta­tion of safety.

“Be­cause of the other in­ci­dents they should surely have upped se­cu­rity there­fore the villa should have had CCTV and a se­cu­rity guard on duty. They should have at least had self lock­ing doors and told us to be vig­i­lant.”

Letters of com­plaint were sent to the com­pany and Ms Mor­timer ex­pected a re­fund - in­stead three weeks later she re­ceived a mar­ket­ing news­let­ter. She said: “I com­plained again. This time I got an email say­ing they were of­fer­ing me a mas­sage and man­i­cure at my lo­cal beauty sa­lon. They’d de­scribed it as a lit­tle ‘treat’ for me and hoped I found it ‘en­joy­able’. As if that would cheer me up. I had been raped un­der their guard. I was dis­gusted, in­sulted.”

Now she has em­ployed lawyers to sue both or­gan­i­sa­tions for neg­li­gence, claim­ing Girls for Sail also failed to re­port the at­tack to the RYA. Her solic­i­tor Vidisha Joshi, Part­ner and Head of Per­sonal In­jury, Hodge, Jones and Allen Solic­i­tors in Lon­don, said: “This is a pro­fes­sional woman who was at­tacked in her own bed whilst away on hol­i­day. Tour op­er­a­tors, ho­tel own­ers and oth­ers in the hol­i­day busi­ness have a duty of care to pro­tect their cus­tomers.”

A spokesper­son for the Royal Yacht­ing As­so­ci­a­tion later said: “The in­ci­dent did not take place dur­ing an RYA ac­cred­ited train­ing course and the RYA had no in­volve­ment in the own­er­ship or pro­vi­sion of the hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion in which the in­ci­dent took place.”

An­nie O Sul­li­van, owner of Sum­mer Breeze villa and Girls for Sail said: “We have been a Trip Ad­vi­sor rec­om­mended 4.5 star villa since 2012 and stren­u­ously deny the claims.”

The view af­forded from the vil­las in Rod­ney Heights is in stark con­trast to the or­deal suf­fered here by Brisitsh tourist Ge­orgina Mor­timer in Fe­bru­ary.

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