Cruise trip company sued for alleged rape
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.