Former Ship Security Officer Tells How Crimes Get 'Lost at Sea'

ByABC News
April 14, 2006, 6:17 PM

April 14, 2006 — -- Hard as it is to share what it's like to be the victim of a sexual assault, several women have come forward to testify before Congress about their assaults aboard cruise ships.

"Primetime" investigated sexual assaults at sea, and found case after case filed by "Jane Doe" -- anonymous victims -- almost all of them settled under terms of confidentiality.

Critics said that is one tactic the cruise industry uses to keep crime out of the spotlight.

"I believe there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of victims that have never come forward. I believe that with my whole soul," said Maralyn Decker, whose daughter, Jamie, said she was assaulted on a cruise ship.

A former ship security officer agrees, and for the first time, he told "Primetime" how crimes get "lost at sea."

Jamie refused to become another silent "Jane Doe." Now 19, she grew up in the peaceful surroundings of Anchorage, Alaska. Several years ago, her parents capped off a cross-country trip with a weeklong vacation on the Carnival cruise ship Sensation.

Jamie was excited to be on her first cruise and signed up for the teen activity group. "I was 12, but I didn't want to hang out with the little kids, really, and I was just kind of at the age where I wanted to be older and hang out with older kids," she said.

On the fifth day, the cruise ship pulled into port at Cozumel, Mexico. Jamie joined the teen group for a swim and was looking forward to a Ping-Pong tournament after lunch.

Jamie said she got out of the pool and headed back to her cabin to take a shower. When she was riding the elevator, she said a man approached her.

"He had a tag with the logo of the cruise on it. He had his name on it. I mean, there was, he was a crew member," Jamie said.

"Well, first, he just got in the elevator, and he asked me if I was having fun and if everything was OK," Jamie told "Primetime." "And then he asked me if I wanted to go see where the dolphins played, where the crew members got to see where the dolphins played and that's where it all kind of started."

At the time Jamie said she simply thought the crew member was offering her a special treat. "First of all, I was 12. I loved dolphins," she said. "And second of all, I was gonna get to go to a place where nobody else could go, so I was special."

She said the crew member then gave her directions to meet him in a remote area of the ship. He showed up moments after she arrived. Jamie said he took her to a room and showed her a porthole where she could see the dolphins.

But then, she said, he started to make her uncomfortable.

"And he said, 'Oh, you have strong shoulders and a strong back,'" Jamie recalled. "I didn't know how to react. I was kind of freaked out. I never had a man come on to me before and I certainly didn't know how to handle it.