An unidentified woman, who was raped and badly beaten by a crew member while aboard a Holland America cruise last year, is suing the Seattle-based cruise line.
Daily Mail reported Ketut Pujayasa raped and beat the then 31-year-old Michigan woman on Valentine’s Day 2014.
Pujayasa, 29, originally from Indonesia, is currently serving 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The victim’s attorney, Jack Hickey, a Florida lawyer who specializes in lawsuits against cruise lines, said Holland America’s poor protocols were responsible for the attack.
Hickey filed the lawsuit on May 29 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Pujayasa used a master key to open the woman’s cabin, where she was staying alone. He then waited for hours on her balcony until she returned.
Hickey told the Daily Mail in an email, that was the first mistake, and the employee should have never had access to a key that was “applicable to all cabins.”
Once the woman returned to her cabin, Pujayasa jumped on her after she crawled into bed and hit her over the head with several blunt objects, including a laptop computer. He also tried to strangle her with various electrical cords. At some point his victim lost consciousness and he raped and sexually assaulted her, then tried to throw her over the balcony.
Hickey told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the attack lasted for 45 minutes to an hour and the cruise line’s poor emergency protocols were at fault for the length of the attack.
“She’s yelling and screaming for her life,” Hickey said, describing the attack, adding that many passengers heard those cries and called the emergency number from their cabin phones.
But those calls went to the front desk instead of directly to security personnel, Hickey told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He said the reports of the screams were given a lower priority than an overflowing toilet elsewhere on the ship.
When someone finally arrived at the room, Hickey said, the employee reportedly did not have a key to get into the cabin and intervene, prolonging the attack.
“This could’ve been prevented,” Hickey said. “Most of the injuries could’ve been prevented if they’d responded.”
The lawyer said his client, a former gymnast and aerial dancer, suffered broken bones in her face and back, brain damage and continuing mental problems.
“She’s very athletic, which is the only thing that saved her life,” Hickey said.
Holland America did not respond to requests for comment from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
But the cruise line did send a written statement to the Daily Mail on June 3.
“We are terribly saddened that this event occurred,” the statement read, in part. “It is right that justice prevailed and the perpetrator was sentenced accordingly.”
“To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred before in our company’s 142-year history,” it continued. “It is our highest priority to ensure the safety and security of our guests.”
“We do strongly refute the statement that emergency calls to our staff related to this situation were given anything but the highest priority,” the statement added.
The lawsuit seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $365 million in punitive damages.
Photo Credit: Daily Mail