Family claims Norwegian Cruise employee sexually assaulted 12-year-old daughter while she slept
A family from Iowa has filed a civil lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Lines, alleging that a 30-year-old room steward sexually assaulted their 12-year-old daughter while she slept.
The family, which had embarked on the Norwegian Escape on a cruise out of Miami in Feb. 2017, is claiming that Norwegian was negligent in the hiring of Rajkumar Panneer Selvam, the employee who was tasked with tending to their stateroom during the cruise, and whom they accused of sexually assaulting their daughter on Feb. 16 of that year, reports The Miami Herald.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Miami last week, the girl was napping alone in their cabin when Selvam entered the room and placed his hand beneath her shorts, “along her buttocks and vaginal area.” Selvam continued to touch her even after she rolled away, the family alleges, but stopped once the girl woke up, and then asked her if she wanted her room cleaned.
The girl soon informed her parents of the incident, and they notified the cruise staff. Selvam was subsequently detained until the ship docked, at which point the captain informed the FBI of the alleged incident.
Selvam, however, has since been tried and found not guilty by a jury in Miami, despite an affidavit of support filed by an FBI agent which stated that Selvam acknowledged that he touched the girl’s “buttocks and pubic region with his hand, skin to skin, while the minor victim was sleeping on the bed.”
In response, the family is now suing Norwegian Cruise Line, claiming they failed to properly vet Selvam before he was hired. Indeed, the Herald reports cruise lines “typically” employ foreign workers whose records may not be as easily available.
“The child is distraught, the parents are really distraught and they are concerned,” John Hickey, a Miami-based maritime lawyer representing the family, told the Herald.
The family is seeking damages of upwards of $75,000 to deal with emotional distress and medical expenses incurred.
The Herald adds that reports of sexual assault among cruise passengers is not uncommon, but rarely do they involve staff members.
A representative for the Norwegian Cruise Line declined to comment on legal matters.