Cruise Ship Steward Called 'Clifford' Used Master Key to Enter Cabin, Rape Arizona Girl, 11, Lawsuit Claims

Norwegian Cruise Line
[File photo] The Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Sky cruise ship sails out of its port on October 12, 2018 in Miami Beach, Florida. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

A steward who allegedly raped an 11-year-girl from Arizona aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship last June has been hit with a lawsuit.

The alleged incident unfolded aboard the Norwegian Spirit, when the 27-year-old steward used his master key to enter the family's stateroom when the girl was alone.

According to the Miami New Times, the male steward, who was identified as "Clifford" in the lawsuit, used his master key to let himself into the room with the pretext of delivering laundry. The steward knew the girl was alone, as he had been told by her family that she was resting in the room and should not be disturbed.

Clifford then left the room and returned a second time, claiming he was going to teach the girl to make towel animals. The federal lawsuit described his behavior as an attempt to "groom" the 11-year-old, identified as Janie Doe in the court filings.

On his third visit, he allegedly kissed the girl before leaving again and then returning for a fourth time, when he climbed on top of the girl and sexually assaulted her.

The lawsuit, which was filed last month in the Southern District of Florida, alleges Clifford then demanded Janie Doe kept the incident quiet. The girl, however, did not and told her parents.

Janie Doe and her mother, who was given the alias Jane Doe, reported the incident at 9:30 p.m. that night, before being sent to the ship's infirmary.

Here the girl was reportedly questioned by the staff captain, head of security, and doctor questioned. The lawsuit alleges Janie Doe was also asked to remove of all her clothes during the lengthy interrogation, while her mother asked to leave multiple times.

"At approximately 1 a.m., exhausted, humiliated and having been interrogated for more than three-and-a-half hours and after having asked on several occasions if they could leave, Jane Doe demanded at the top of her lungs that they be allowed to leave the ship's infirmary," the lawsuit reads.

"Then and only then, did NCL's officers allow Jane Doe and her daughter Janie Doe to leave."

The complaint claims that there was nothing the girl could do to prevent Clifford from entering the room, given the suite had no working deadbolt or chain lock.

Keith S. Brais, the lawyer representing the girl and the family, wrote in the lawsuit that Norwegian Cruise Line "fails to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of children in cabins" .

The lawsuit also alleges employees are not properly screened and that victims are left reporting incidents to the staff, as opposed to police officers.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, sexual assault is the most reported crime aboard cruise ships. Last year, there were 82 cases of sexual assaults reported, compared with 22 thefts, the second-most common crime.

Norwegian has not yet formally responded in court.