Cruise trip com­pany sued for al­leged rape

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By David Migoya

A Lit­tle­ton com­pany that of­fers high-end river cruises on four con­ti­nents was sued by the mother of a 17-year-old girl who was al­legedly raped by a bar­tender who tar­geted the girl dur­ing a Christ­mas­time ex­cur­sion in south­east Asia last year.

The law­suit against Avalon Wa­ter­ways ac­cuses the com­pany of not prop­erly pro­tect­ing the Cal­i­for­nia girl, in part be­cause the com­pany al­legedly failed to learn from sex­ual as­saults re­ported through­out the cruis­ing in­dus­try.

Avalon is a reg­is­tered name for Group Voy­agers Inc., also in Lit­tle­ton, ac­cord­ing to busi­ness records filed with the Colorado sec­re­tary of state. The name regis­tra­tion has ex­pired, records show.

Group Voy­agers is known as the Globus fam­ily of brands, which touts it­self as the largest tour op­er­a­tor world­wide, with about 500,000 pas­sen­gers yearly. Orig­i­nally a New York com­pany, it has been in Colorado since 1997, records show.

Its owner, Kevin Ford, did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to Den­ver Post ef­forts to reach him.

The law­suit claims the uniden­ti­fied girl, who was 16 at the time, was trav­el­ing with her mother and suf­fered undis­closed per­ma­nent phys­i­cal and emo­tional in­juries as a re­sult of the at­tack.

Ef­forts to reach the fam­ily or their at­tor­ney were un­suc­cess­ful.

The cruise ran along the up­per part of the Ir­rawaddy River, which bi­sects Myan­mar, a coun­try that sits along the Bay of Ben­gal just north of Thai­land, from Dec. 20 to Dec. 30, 2015, the law­suit says.

One of the crew, a bar­tender iden­ti­fied only as Louie, con­tin­u­ously fol­lowed the girl aboard the boat and joined her and her mother dur­ing ex­cur­sions on land.

The as­sault al­legedly hap­pened on the last day of the cruise in a re­stroom, the law­suit says.

The cruise con­tract dic­tates that any dis­pute be re­solved first through me­di­a­tion, which the law­suit says the fam­ily un­suc­cess­fully tried to ini­ti­ate from Au­gust through Oc­to­ber. The fed­eral case was filed in U.S District Court in Den­ver on Dec. 3.

The prob­lem of sex­ual as­saults on cruise ships is a long-run­ning theme in the va­ca­tion in­dus­try, with much of the con­cern over lax pros­e­cu­tion since many of the as­saults hap­pen on in­ter­na­tional waters. From 2010 through 2014, the most re­cent data avail­able, more than 150 cases of al­leged rape or sex­ual as­sault aboard cruise ships stop­ping in U.S. ports were re­ported, ac­cord­ing to FBI and U.S. Coast Guard statis­tics.

Although U.S. laws re­quire that pas­sen­gers have ac­cess to sex­ual as­sault exam kits on board, as well as any med­i­cal at­ten­tion, it does not ap­ply to nonAmer­i­can ships cruis­ing other coun­tries.

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