Monday, August 13, 2012

Carnival cruise ship passenger reports rape in Cozumel

But judge frees restaurant suspects immediately

Cozumel, Quintana Roo --
A 19 year old woman traveling with her family aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Freedom of the Seas has reported to local authorities that she was raped Friday (Aug. 10) in this Riviera Maya resort.

The woman, who is identified in the Spanish press as Victoria Lynn Bennett, is said to be North American. A local news service did not specify whether she is a U.S. or Canadian citizen.

The unusual case unfolded in Señor Frog's, a bar and grill chain with more than 50 locations in Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and the United States. In 2005 a company executive told Forbes magazine, "You go to Señor Frog’s when you're on vacation, if you want to get crazy and nobody knows you."

Bennett's family gave this account to authorities: They went to the establishment about 3:00 p.m., after touring the island. Employees brought them drinks and encouraged them to dance. At some point the victim entered the DJ's "cabin," an enclosed area of the restaurant from where music is played. There were several men in the cabin, all of whom were Señor Frog's personnel. Bennett says she was given a "strong drink" and soon after lost consciousness. It is unclear how long she was in the cabin, or what other family members were doing during that time.

When Bennett exited the cabin she told her family she wanted to leave. They returned to the ship, where she again lost consciousness. They took her to the vessel's infirmary, where she reported discomfort consistent with a sexual assault. The family then filed a formal complaint with local police. The case is the seventh reported rape in Cozumel in 2012.

Several employees of Señor Frog's were quickly taken into custody and on Saturday were presented before the Public Ministry (magistrate's court). In their preliminary legal declarations all denied having assaulted Bennett. The court released the four suspects, finding insufficient evidence to establish that a crime had occurred. Aug. 16 - Rape, or a very severe case of Morning After Remorse?

Aug 12 - Crucerista violada por DJ´s

A note on Grupo Anderson establishments
On May 30, 2005, U.S. citizen Natalee Holloway disappeared on the island of Aruba after leaving a local Carlos'n Charlie's bar, a sister chain which is owned by Grupo Anderson, the same company which runs Señor Frog's. Grupo Anderson was founded in 1963 and is said to be one of Mexico's largest restaurant companies.

Holloway, who was 18, is widely believed to have been murdered, but no trace of her was ever found. Dutch prosecutors investigated an island resident, Joran van der Sloot, but were unable to present sufficient evidence to convict him of any crime.

Last year van der Sloot pleaded guilty in a Lima courtroom to the murder of a young Peruvian woman on May 30, 2010, five years to the day after Holloway vanished. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Van der Sloot met the victim at an international poker tournament, and the motive was robbery of a substantial purse which she had just won, according to authorities. Van der Sloot remains under investigation in the disappearance of Holloway, and is also under indictment in Alabama for extortion and wire fraud. Federal prosecutors there allege that van der Sloot promised to reveal the location of Holloway's body to a family attorney in exchange for $250,000. In a 2010 government sting operation he was paid $25,000 of the money, but later e-mailed the attorney that his story was a ruse. The U.S. has requested his extradition from Peru to answer the indictment.

At the time of Holloway's disappearance, van der Sloot was said to have frequented Carlos'n Charlie's and other clubs in the Aruban capital of Oranjestad, trolling for sex partners among the thousands of international visitors who arrive every year. Business owners complained afterwards that the intense media coverage of the case had hurt the local tourist industry, a mainstay of the island's economy.

Grupo Anderson, corporate owner of both Señor Frog's and Carlos'n Charlie's, employs about 9,000 people worldwide. Its U.S. locations include Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Las Vegas and Orlando.

MGRR stories
Jan. 18 - American tourist, 15, sexually assaulted in Cancún guest room on family vacation.
Feb. 26 - Puerto Vallarta cruise passengers robbed.

Non-MGRR stories (added 8/20/12)
Feb. 6, 2011 - Royal Caribbean Crew Member Murdered in Cozumel
June 11, 2012 - Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Gang Rape in Cozumel


  1. follow up ont the ALLEGED rape...

  2. Thank you, reader, for that link, which I hadn't yet seen. I'll translate and summarize it in a story update very shortly, as I always endeavor to do.

    By the way, for your and everyone else's benefit, when I report stories like this no one should presume that I am subscribing to the truth of the underlying claims. I'm "just the messenger," as the saying goes. That's why my headline was "Passenger reports rape . . ."

    My detailed account of the "unusual case" and the events which supposedly transpired inside Frog's was designed to give the reader all the information in my possession, so that each reader could then evaluate the case for himself/herself.

    That being said, I'll note this as a former U.S. criminal defense practitioner for many years: Few responsible American prosecutors would bother to charge anyone in a junk case like this, and if I represented any of the accused I'd have him out of the courthouse and on his way to an early lunch in no more time than it might take the preliminary hearing magistrate to announce, "CASE DISMISSED."

    Stand by for my update this afternoon.

  3. I don't usually post ordinary story updates as a new and separate article, but this one will be, contrary to what I said above. I feel an editorial coming on . . . which it will be published today.

  4. Looking forward to it!

  5. You have the cruise line wrong.
    Freedom of the Seas is NOT Carnival but Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

  6. Yes, you're right. Thank you for pointing out my error, which I have corrected.