How Will Trump’s New FBI Director Address Cruise Ship Sexual Assault?

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Just a few months after taking power, president Donald Trump has dismissed this FBI director James Comey. Comey’s firing will have a number of lasting repercussions, including potentially the way in which cruise ship sexual assault cases are prosecuted.

Cruise ship sexual assault is the most commonly reported cruise ship crime. Because the FBI is responsible for investigating a significant number of these cases, the direction of the FBI leadership could be particularly important for victims of cruise ship sexual assaults. The FBI becomes involved in cruise ship sexual assault cases which occur in international waters, and may even become involved in other cases as well.

In theory, the FBI director’s job is to enforce the law, not make policy decisions as to which laws should and should not be on the books. But the cruise industry has proven adept at escaping regulation, and it undoubtedly sees the FBI vigorously prosecuting cases of cruise ship sexual assault as a form of regulation. That is because, among other reasons, cruise ship crew members commit the majority of onboard sexual assaults.

It has been proven that lobbyists may convince authorities, whose job it is to protect U.S. citizens, to water down important rules relating to the cruise industry. For example, the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was partially defanged when a rule governing how cruise companies report crimes was changed to allow the companies to report the crimes after they had closed the cases out in their own investigation systems. This wording allowed cruise companies to keep investigations open indefinitely, and thereby avoid reporting the crimes.