A couple from Vermont are suing Disney Cruise Line for $ 20 million, alleging that workers at a ship’s day care failed to stop the sexual assault of their 3-year-old daughter.
The couple claim the toddler, identified as an RV, was restrained and sexually assaulted by an older child while in the care of staff at a children’s activity center on board the Disney Fantasy ship in January 2020, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The parents of the girl, now 5, say in court documents that she was “excessively groped and sexually touched” by the much older child and that she did not have the strength to stop the assault during the seven-day trip.
Staff at the Youth Club’s Media Lounge, where children ages 3 to 12 can frolic in themed playrooms, then ‘did not acknowledge’ the assault and allowed the ‘abuse’ ongoing ”to continue, according to the lawsuit.
The girl was allegedly assaulted by a 12-year-old child, WFLA reported late last month.
The toddler’s parents allege that cruise passengers also failed to notify them of the assault and were insufficiently staffed, which left RV and other children unattended, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The lawsuit does not indicate how the girl’s parents learned of the alleged assault. The accused child has not been identified to the family, according to a lawyer representing the Vermont couple identified as John and Jane Doe, the Sentinel reported.
Lawyer Michael Winkleman said RV, who had been toilet trained, started having accidents as a result of the abuse and tried to re-enact the attack with his father, the newspaper said.
“It’s easy to say this is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Winkleman told The Sentinel. “They took a Disney cruise, they put their kid in Disney daycare, basically. This is about the last thing they could imagine to happen.
The girl suffered “mental anguish and trauma” as a result of the assault, according to the lawsuit. She responded to treatment, but the 5-year-old will suffer the consequences for years to come, Winkleman said.
Staff inaction shows a “clear problem” with their ability to recognize sexual assault, Winkleman added, saying additional training is needed.
The Disney Fantasy ship, which sails in the Caribbean, resumed its voyages last month after being docked during the pandemic, the Sentinel reported.
A spokeswoman for Disney Cruise Line, meanwhile, told the newspaper the lawsuit was “completely without merit,” adding that the allegations were first reported to the FBI and the Florida County Sheriff’s Office and no. were not supported by evidence.
“The complainants have now come back with a different story, which is equally unfounded, that another young girl acted inappropriately with their child,” spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend this case in court. “
Records from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office were not available on Wednesday, the Sentinel reported.