By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FLORIDA woman has filed legal action against Carnival Cruise Lines over allegations that she was wrongfully stripped and cavity searched as a minor on board a cruise in The Bahamas.
According to the Florida court writ, the woman - identified by initials JG - was made to remove her tampon, urinate, and submit to a genital cavity search in the presence of male cruise ship employees.
While no penalties were brought against JG, it was also alleged that she was assaulted when she spent the night in a Bahamian holding cell.
The writ stated: "As a direct result of the defendants' aforementioned conduct, plaintiff has suffered physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, personal inconvenience, psychological injuries, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, humiliation and embarrassment.
"Plaintiff has also incurred medical expenses for the care and treatment of her injuries, including psychological counselling, many of the injuries are permanent or continuing in nature."
According to the court writ, 17-year-old JG was a passenger aboard the Carnival Sensation with her mother, aunt and 15-year-old friend, KB.
The incident allegedly occurred while the ship was moored in Nassau on April 27, 2011. However, the writ was filed last month by JG as an adult.
It was reported that JG, her mother, and KB re-boarded the vessel at 2am that day, and had entered the ship's elevator with a male friend of JG's mother. At that time, a male security officer was said to have recovered a small bag containing "green leaves and substance inside" from the floor of the elevator. Upon leaving the elevator, JG and her friend returned to the cabin alone.
Fifteen minutes later, it was alleged that the security officer, identified as Mayank Thapa; a male assistant housekeeping manager, Redentor Yuzon; and an unidentified woman employee, known only as Leticia, entered the girls' cabin.
As one employee blocked the doorway, the group began aggressively interrogating both girls, who feared for their safety. The employees reportedly told JG that their interrogation would cease and the girls would be allowed to continue on the cruise if she admitted ownership of the small bag recovered in the elevator. However, the employees allegedly continued their aggressive questioning after JG provided an admission.
After a search of the cabin proved fruitless, the employees then demanded JG remove her underwear and lift up her dress to her waist in the presence of all three agents, after which she was forced into the bathroom and made to urinate. JG was then made to remove her tampon, and have her genital cavity visually inspected by Leticia. It was alleged that the cavity search was done in the presence of the male employees, KB, and JG's aunt, who was unaware of the circumstances and not allowed into the room.
After the search, JG was then escorted to the ship's booking station where she was met by her mother and the Bahamian police, who escorted them off the ship. JG reportedly spent one night in an adult holding cell with another woman, and has also claimed that she was assaulted within the cell. JG was released the following day without penalty.
The writ stated: "These employees knew, or should have known, that the girls were minors. The three employees made no attempt to locate JG's mother before beginning an aggressive, intimidating interrogation of JG in the confines of the cabin."
It added: "None of Carnival's employees warned JG about her rights, including for her mother to be present during any interrogation."
The suit brings eight charges against the defendants: Negligence of Carnival for the acts of its employees; fraud and misrepresentation; assault on plaintiff by Carnival employees; sexual harassment; battery; both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress; breach of contract for safe transportation; and punitive damages.