Articles Posted in Tourism Crime

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Vacations can be the greatest of times…or can leave tourists injured or killed. Resorts, cruise ships and hotels present a range of hazards to even the most seasoned travelers. As an experienced resort and vacation injury lawyer, John Leighton has litigated and tried many cases involving injury and death to travelers. In the latest issue of the South Florida Legal Guide, Mr. Leighton published 10 life-saving tips to help avoid a tragic vacation scenario:

Ten Tips to Avoid a Deadly Vacation:

Surviving Resorts, Cruise Ships & Hotels is No Accident

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Yesterday the murderer of our client’s son was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Eric Ellington shot Julian Soler numerous times while in the process of carjacking Julian and his friend Kennia Duran at a gas station. Neither of the young people resisted, but Ellington killed Julian because “he didn’t look scared enough.” An accomplice yet to be tried killed Kennia. 3 years later the killer received his sentence.

We represented Julian’s mother Janine Diaz in a civil negligent security case against the business where the shootings took place. The Soler and Duran families have suffered the worst kind of loss imaginable, and have done so with dignity.

Now that Julian’s killer is going to prison for life, it begs the question: who wins by sending the killer away? One answer is that society does, because someone with so little regard for human life will no longer threaten the safety of the public. Another is that the families who lost their children do because there is some sense of justice. No, it will never bring back these two young people, whose lives were out in front of them. It will never erase the tears of Janine Soler that she has and will continue to shed when she thinks about her son.

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Not everyone thinks theme parks are the happiest places on earth. Parents of children might find it uncomfortable to learn that the people in the costumes at theme parks, those working on rides, and escorting guests through the resorts might be pedophiles on the prowl.

In several To Catch A Predator-style stings, police in Florida have recently arrested a number of Disney employees for child sex offenses. CNN conducted an investigation that found at least 35 Disney employees have been arrested since 2006 for sex crimes involving children. Some were caught with child porn on Disney property. One, a Disney World employee who oversaw ride repairs, was arrested when he arrived at a house thinking he was going to meet a 14 year-old girl. Instead he was arrested.

Just last month employees of Disney and Universal were arrested when they too showed up at a house planning to meet children. One was a concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, who thought he was going to “fulfill a fantasy” with a 14 year-old boy.

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Resort torts continue in the cruise industry…

Not a Vacation CELEBRATION

The FBI is investigating a passenger reported missing from a Celebration Cruise Line ship, The Sun Sentinel reported. She was last seen in the ship’s casino around 1 a.m. and was reported missing by her boyfriend at 8 a.m. The ship was in international waters at the time, after leaving the Grand Bahamas Island port at 6 p.m. the night before. The card-swiping system that records passengers’ whereabouts indicated that she was last registered as being on board.

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Stormy Cruise Ship.jpgThe Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act signed into United States law in July 2010 seems to be firmly in place, not that it can totally prevent crimes or personal injury.

As the Act requires, Royal Caribbean recently reported an alleged rape aboard one of its ships to the FBI and BSO, and allowed both to investigate the ship and port. The ship’s ‘guest care team’ also offered the alleged victim assistance including medical care and counseling, according to a statement from the cruise line’s manager of Global Corporate Communications, as reported in the Sun Sentinel.

The Sentinel article says that a 15-year-old girl from Iowa said she was lured from a teen dance club on board to a private room, where a 15-year-old boy said there would be a party. Instead, she said, there was only another man there, and the two of them raped her.

Both males live in Brazil, are being held in Broward, and appeared in court last Wednesday. The elder, a 20-year-old, was accused of one count of committing a lewd and lascivious act, ordered not leave the tri-county area and denied access to his or a replacement passport. The younger was charged with lewd and lascivious battery and held at the Broward Juvenile Assessment Center.

The International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) represents victims of crime on cruise ships, their families and friends, and individuals concerned about the problems of victimization and disappearances on cruise ships. The organization advocates for legislative reform to protect passengers from crimes and increase the rights of victims of crimes that do occur on cruise ships, and provides support to victims of crimes occurring on cruise ships.

The National Association for Victims of Crimes and the Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN) have joined ICV in the effort to promote reform to the Cruise Line Industry.

The National Crime Victim Bar Association is a network of attorneys and allied professionals dedicated to facilitating civil actions brought by crime victims. Crime victims may be able to file civil lawsuits against perpetrators and responsible third parties for the damages the victims suffered as a result of the crime. Personal injury attorney John Elliott Leighton serves on the Advisory Board of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

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Seminar logo - red cropped.jpgThe Miami Beach shooting incident during Memorial Day weekend has changed the ‘foreseeability’ factor for resort crimes in the area.

Most negligent security cases turn on the issue of foreseeability: Was the incident reasonably foreseeable by the owner or business?

One of the tools used to analyze foreseeability is the crime grid, which has been held admissible at trial, and involves obtaining from a police agency a record of the service calls for the area around the address of an incident.

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As The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act is being considered for global implementation by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), more international cruise ship incidents continue to occur.

Minor Abused on Carnival Cruise Ship

Last week, it was reported in Alabama that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Mobile arrested a 19-year-old for abusing a minor on the Carnival Cruise Ship Elation, in international waters. The teen was transported to a Federal Courthouse in Mobile after the FBI investigated the matter, and the U.S. Attorney’s office will prosecute the matter.

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Cruise ship at port.jpgThe Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act signed into United States law in July 2010 may spread internationally. A proposal was made by the United States to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. The proposal is based on the principals of the U.S. Act, which seeks to improve the reporting and handling of cruise ship crimes.

Apart from the United States flagged ships or foreign flagged ships operating in an area subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, there are currently no international guidelines that explicitly address these passenger safety and security concerns.

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A woman has accused a Walt Disney World employee of raping her at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort after luring her there with a Friends and Family hotel rate and free theme-park passes, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

The man charged with sexual battery is a Disney reservations clerk, now on unpaid leave pending the outcome of a criminal investigation. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether the man booked rooms for other visitors with his employee discount and provided them with free admission to Disney parks with his employee pass, to determine if there might be other victims.

The woman first spoke to the accused when she called Walt Disney World reservations to inquire about hotel reservations and theme-park tickets. During the conversation, she mentioned that she was unemployed and wanted to spend her income-tax refund check on a vacation for her children. The man began sending her text messages and offered to book her a room under his Friends and family discount, saying that he was raised by a single mother and understood what it was like to want things, reports the Sentinel.

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stranger in hotel hallway.jpgThe Tourist Safety Act of 2011 has been signed by a Florida House panel. The legislation (HB 63) approved by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee addresses the potential dangers and risks presented by people who illegally distribute ‘handbills’ such as pizza menus and other fliers in hotels, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The legislation arose because criminals are using bogus menus and coupons to gain credit-card numbers from tourists, to burglarize hotel rooms, and for identity theft at hotels in Central Florida. Attempted rape and the beating of a security guard were also reported in Daytona Beach.

The Act would require written authorization from the hotel to distribute menus. It would also make arrests easier, impose stiffer penalties on violators, and allow police to seize property used to commit the crimes under a contraband-forfeiture law commonly used in drug arrests. The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association and Walt Disney World (operator of around 25,000 hotel rooms time-share suites) supported the bill.