The Island Now has recently reported that a student was raped during her "Sea Year" at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy located at 300 Steamboat Rd, Kings Point, NY 11024.
The 19-year-old female cadet alleged that she blacked out following a Middle East port stop after being pressured to consume more than "8 to 10 shots" of alcohol. When she woke up the next morning, not only was she hungover, but she was naked, and there was blood on her sheets. She has accused her 60-year-old supervisor of the sexual assault, stating he constantly made "romantic passes" and "crude and demeaning comments" toward her. As soon as the female cadet posted her story online, as many as nine additional female students currently enrolled responded with similar accusations.
An internal and federal investigation took place, resulting in five crew members being suspended. The program was initially suspended but is planned to resume following an additional 30 new safety measures.
This is not the first time the academy has had to halt the program. KVOA reported that in 2016, an incident of sexual assault put the brakes on the outgoing ship. The academy reinstated the program the following year after it made promises of increased safety precautions.
Attorney contributor Laurence Banville is an experienced military school sexual assault attorney. He represents sex abuse victims in civil lawsuits against military academies. Laurence has shared some information regarding the legal options available to victims, including filing a lawsuit for military academy sexual abuse.
"Military academies and schools have a legal duty to provide safety to their students, even while aboard their registered ships. By implementing a level of safety measures, the academy can reduce the risk of incidents of sexual assault to students and staff. These may include conducting background checks on both staff and students, installing video monitoring cameras, and taking reports of misconduct seriously. Failure to provide such safety can result in the academy being found at fault for its negligence. Victims of sexual assault by a supervisor may have grounds to file a lawsuit if negligence is found to be a factor."
"If an academy or supervisor has a history of reports of misconduct and yet the academy fails to increase their safety precautions, they can be held liable for abuse that takes place. A criminal investigation would allow the perpetrator to be charged. Still, the victim may have the option to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent academy for failing to prevent foreseeable abuse. These cases can be complicated and may involve a statute of limitations to file. It is highly advised to consult with an experienced military school sexual assault attorney to learn more about your legal options."