Alabama Catholic Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse of Cruise Ship Masseuse, Is Due to Face Charges in Court

An Alabama priest is due to attend court Wednesday having been accused of sexually harassing a masseuse aboard a cruise ship in August.

According to The Associated Press, Reverend Amal Samy from the Archdiocese of Mobile in southwest Alabama is being trialed after allegations emerged revealing the priest had tried to get a female technician aboard the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship to touch his genitals. It has also been claimed Samy had repeatedly attempted to touch the technician, federal court documents show.

Witness statements additionally allege that Samy had exposed himself to the masseuse by removing the covering sheet during his massage. However, Samy himself denies committing any wrongdoing.

Cruise ship
An Alabama priest is due to attend court on Wednesday having been accused of sexually harassing a masseuse aboard a cruise ship in August. Pictured: a cruise ship. KEVIN KLINE/Getty

According to U.S. law, sexual harassment embodies any "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" that can affect an employment decision or create a hostile work environment.

Certain actions may meet the definition of sexual harassment in and of themselves, such as touching of a sexual nature and repeatedly making sexually suggestive gestures.

This differs from sexual assault, which is defined by the U.S. Department of Justice as "any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent."

A survey recently conducted by the nonprofit Stop Street Harassment found that 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men report experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime. Verbal harassment was the most commonly cited, with 77 percent of women and 34 percent of men reporting the experience. More than half of women asked (51 percent) and almost a fifth of men (17 percent) also reported having been groped or touched in an unwelcome way.

A second survey produced higher figures, finding 87 percent of women who took part reporting sexual harassment in the workplace alone, in line with similar studies that have produced figures around the 80 percent mark. The paper's authors noted levels had declined between 2016 and 2018, possibly due to a greater fear that perpetrators will be punished. They also found levels of gender harassment had increased during that time.

Former President of the American Psychological Association (APA) Antonio E. Puente called sexual harassment a "significant occupational health psychology problem" after an APA report published in 2017 found victims of harassment may suffer anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress as a result.

Many masseuses have come forward, revealing their personal experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Reports of sexual harassment in massage parlors go both ways and affect patrons just as they do technicians.