The Case Of Janet Kelly

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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.