Parents Claim 3-Year-Old Sexually Assaulted Aboard Disney Cruise Line, Files $20-Million Lawsuit

Photo: (Photo : David Roark/Disney via Getty Images)

The parents of a 3-year-old girl have filed a $20-million lawsuit against Disney Cruise Line, claiming that its personnel were negligent and failed to see that their daughter was sexually assaulted aboard the ship by an older child.

On Jan. 9, 2020, the daughter of the Vermont couple, who have only been identified as John and Jane Doe, participated in a seven-day Disney Fantasy cruise. She stayed at the Oceaneer Club, which was meant for passengers between three to 12 years old.

At the special section, kids could play with each other without any restrictions while counselors were in the vicinity. However, the parents alleged that the Disney crew members did not do anything about the assaults that happened right in front of them.

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Girl Allegedly Endured the Ordeal

The complaint detailed that an older girl wearing a Princess Leia costume targeted their daughter, who had to endure the ordeal for an "extended period of time" in plain view of the counselors. The lawsuit said that the incidents happened at least five times, but none of the Disney Fantasy cruise crew members did any action.

Michael Winkleman, the lawyer for the couple, said that one of the attacks was caught on the CCTV, showing the older girl pinning the smaller child on the floor. Meanwhile, crew members were seen walking in and out of the facility but did not think to check on what was happening to the girls on the floor or even tell her parents about the incident.

"Any parent would reasonably think it was safe to leave their child in the care of Disney workers," Winkleman said."But for an assault like this to occur when Disney crewmembers are supposed to be taking care of the child is unthinkable."

The couple alleged that the cruise ship did not have staff members who were properly licensed and trained to look after the kids at the Oceaneer Club, which served as a daycare center. As a result, their daughter was not only physically injured but emotionally and mentally suffered as well.

The Disney Cruise Line offering Disney Fantasy for kids have over 4,000 passengers. It is the largest ship in the vessel, which has various family-themed activities across 14 decks, including a Disney-themed restaurant.

No Merit to the Claims

Lawyers for Disney Cruise Line said that they will challenge the $20-million lawsuit because it's "wholly without merit." A spokesperson for the company said the parents first reported the incidents to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office and the FBI. The authorities conducted investigations and found no cause to support the parents' claims. The spokesperson said that the parents are now back with the lawsuit with a different story.

However, the parents said they decided to sue to warn the public about the hidden dangers aboard a cruise ship and the increasing cases of sexual assault at sea. They want Disney to be accountable for their mental anguish, pain, and suffering, as well as future medical expenses.

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