Ex-Cheerleading Coach Aboard Cruise Ship Who Locked Himself in Drunk Woman's Cabin, Sexually Assaulted Her, Is Sentenced

An ex-cheerleading coach who sexually assaulted a female colleague on a cruise ship has been sentenced.

Anthony Paul De La Torriente, 30, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office Central District of California. He was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman on a cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, Mexico, in 2015. The victim has not been publicly identified.

United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer ordered Torriente to register as a sex offender for life in a case investigated by the FBI.

Judge Fischer said as he handed down the sentence: "I hope that the fact that a jury of [the victim's] peers believed her provides some comfort. I believe her too."

De La Torriente was on the cruise with colleagues working for the CheerForce gymnastics and cheerleading training center. His victim was 20-years-old at the time of the attack.

Jurors heard that the victim had become severely drunk after a day trip in Ensenada, on the Pacific coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, according to the statement. Her colleagues became worried, so De La Torriente, from the city of Simi Valley, 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles, volunteered to stay alone with the victim in her cabin.

Their colleagues went to get food on the cruise ship, leaving De La Torriente with the woman. De La Torriente then sexually assaulted her.

When the group came back, they found the victim's door was double-locked from the inside. De La Torriente "eventually unlocked" the door and allowed the colleagues inside. The victim accused De La Torriente of attacking her.

The woman told staff on the cruise ship she had been sexually assaulted, and swabs were taken from her body. The DNA matched De La Torriente's. Swabs taken from his underwear in turn matched the victim's DNA.

The accused was found guilty of one count of sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact.

The jury concluded De La Torriente knew the woman was physically unable to say no to participating in sexual acts, or had said she did not want to engage.

According to data from the Department of Transportation, sexual assault is the most common crime reported on cruise ships. In 2018, cruise line operators reported 82 sexual assault allegations to the department, followed by theft of over $10,000 at 22.

Crimes on cruise ships are categorized under homicide, suspicious death, missing U.S. national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, firing or tampering with vessel, theft over $10,000, and sexual assault.