Monthly Archives: October 2011

Proudly Representing Cruise Ship Cases in Miami, Nearby Areas of Florida and Nationwide

The next story in our series this week will be that of Janet Kelly.  As can be seen from our first two stories, there is no typical cruise ship sexual assault or rape case.  Every case is individual, involving real people.

Janet Kelly decided to take a “healing” cruise in the winter of 2000, after having lost her 18 year old daughter and having helped her husband through recovery from and open heart surgery.  Taking a four day cruise with a few neighbors, she felt it may be exactly what she needed to recharge her batteries.

On the last night of the cruise Janet was drugged by one of the cruise ship’s bartenders.  He apparently mixed date-rape type drugs into her drink, before taking her to a “crew members only” bathroom and raping her.

Janet filed a civil suit against the cruise line, terrified that she had been exposed to HIV.  The perpetrator was released from his employment and sent back to his native Jamaica, only to be reemployed by another cruise line later.   This information was discovered by Janet’s attorney, who notified the perpetrator’s new employer.  He was then fired again.

Janet has made several recommendations on how to improve cruise ship safety.  Here are her recommendations in her own words:

I strongly suggest …

  • U.S. Marshals to be present on cruise ships
  • A main database of terminated individuals/employees that all cruise lines must report to.
  • Full background checks of ALL employees, INCLUDING officers
  • Changes in legislation, making these cruise lines safe for U.S. passengers.
  • Be especially careful on the last day and evening of travel. This is when most foul play on ships occurs.
  • Travel in numbers and stay together!
  • Only drink out of beverages that you have witnessed being prepared, or ask that your bottled drinks come unopened. This goes for establishments on and off ships.

This week we are focusing on victims of sexual assault on cruise ships. We are covering their stories as told in their words.  The reason for this is because it is important that people know what sexual assault looks like.  It is important that cruise goers do not have a preconceived notion of how and when these horrible assaults can happen, because, as seen in our first report yesterday, even 60 feet underwater is not off-limits for a sexual predator.  Today, we will look at the case of Deborah Shaffer and her daughter.

Deborah’s story is interesting because she was not the victim of the sexual assault, or the perpetrator.  When sailing on a Carnival cruise in April 2003, Deborah’s daughter, who was 15 at the time, met another 15 year old young girl aboard the ship.  She asked her half-sleep mother if she could go to the other girl’s cabin to watch a movie, which her mother said was OK.  Deborah told her daughter to be back by midnight.

Upon waking up at 4 a.m., Deborah found her daughter had not returned to their cabin.  Not knowing where her daughter was, or the name of the girl she had been with, Deborah enlisted the help of cruise staff and began knocking on cabin doors until the girl was found.

When she finally found her daughter, her daughter came out of the girl’s room with puffy eyes.  Deborah thought it was because her daughter had been sleeping.

The two days later Deborah’s younger daughter, 13 at the time, informed her that the 15 year old daughter had been raped on that night that she didn’t come back to the cabin on time!  Confronting the daughter, the girl denied that she was raped.

Deborah took the girl several times to the ship’s medical professionals to request a rape examination, but it was denied.  She even eventually asked the ship’s captain, but he also denied her request.  Deborah was at a loss.

Three years later, the girl confessed.  She had been raped by the 30 year old brother of the girl she had met.  She didn’t tell her mother because of the shame, thinking it may have been her own fault.

Primary Source: ttp://


A Mount Prospect man already accused of molesting two 15-year-old boys in Buffalo Grove is facing new charges alleging he assaulted one of those teens at his home.

Herbert M. Burgess Jr., 57, of the 2300 block of South Lexington Drive, was arrested by Mount Prospect police last week on eight felony charges, including aggravated criminal sexual abuse, sexual abuse, aggravated criminal sexual assault, sexual assault, and unlawful restraint.

Burgess, who already was in custody at the Lake County jail on $500,000 bond, appeared Sept. 28 before Cook County Judge Thomas Fecarotta, who set his bond in the new case at $750,000.

Mount Prospect police began investigating Burgess Aug. 19 after receiving information from Buffalo Grove police. The information, police said, led Mount Prospect investigators to believe Burgess sexually assaulted one of the 15-year-old boys at his apartment in early August.

Crime scene investigators recovered evidence related to the allegations after executing a search warrant at the residence, police said.

Buffalo Grove police arrested Burgess Aug. 21 on criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges alleging he molested two teenage boys with whom he worked at a Buffalo Grove business. Burgess, who could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty on the most serious of those charges, formally pleaded not guilty last week.

He is scheduled to return to court in the Mount Prospect case on Nov. 1. If found guilty of the most serious charge in that matter, he could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison.

Mount Prospect police Deputy Chief Tim Janowick said detectives continue to investigate whether other suspected crimes occurred or whether there are other victims. Anyone with information is asked to call the police department’s Investigations Section at (847) 870-5654.