The Brevard County Sheriff's Office arrested a Carnival Cruise Lines Stateroom Steward on Saturday, August 15, 2015 when the vessel arrived at Port Canaveral, Florida. According to various media reports, a 46-year-old Honduran national named Yovany Sauzo-Batiz sexually assaulted a teenage boy under the age of 16 while the boy was in a public shower area aboard the vessel. Reports claim that Sauzo-Batiz first made efforts to engage the boy in conversation while the boy was at the vessel's sauna. The boy then tried to get away from Sauzo-Batiz and walked to the shower area but Sauzo-Batiz followed and allegedly assaulted him.
Shortly after the assault is reported to have occurred, the boy's father, with the assistance of other fellow passengers, detained Sauzo-Batiz until ship security arrived on scene. Carnival Cruise Lines reported the sexual assault before the vessel arrived at Port Canaveral. As a result, Brevard County Deputies were waiting at the port and were able to apprehend and arrest Sauzo-Batiz.
Sauzo-Batiz has been charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 and lewd and lascivious molestation. He was arraigned this past Sunday where his bond was raised from $95,000 to $135,000, as Sauzo-Batiz, according to the State, is a flight risk. Sauzo-Batiz was ordered to turn over his passport and to refrain from having any contact with the boy or the boy's family. As of Sunday, August 16, 2015, Sauzo-Batiz remained at the Brevard County Jail.
A Carnival Cruise Lines spokesperson has stated that "All crewmembers undergo background checks and are provided the appropriate seaman's visa." It is unknown whether the appropriate background check was undertaken in the case of Sauzo-Batiz. It is also unknown whether any third parties may have witnessed the alleged assault.
In July 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") legislation, legislation that was designed to improve the security and safety of passengers aboard cruise ships such as the Carnival Valor. Under the CVSSA, cruise lines are required to report all sexual assaults, rapes, and other violent crimes to the appropriate authorities. This includes the filing of reports of all rapes and sexual assaults with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Despite the above legislation and to the detriment of unsuspecting passengers, passenger assaults on cruise ships continue. The FBI is also investigating this incident, and Carnival Cruise Lines has said that it provided "full support" to the victim and is cooperating with law enforcement.
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