A female cadet from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by an engineering supervisor during her Sea Year training in an account submitted to Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy.
The cadet, whose name was not disclosed in the account, said she was a 19-year-old virgin at the time of the alleged incident when she was assaulted by the 60-year-old supervisor, whose name was also not disclosed. The supervisor who raped her, she said, made derogatory comments to her and other women on the ship.
“He was creepy, made romantic passes at me, and made crude and demeaning comments about me in front of other members of the engine department,” the account read. “It was a difficult work environment, to say the least, and not what I had expected Sea Year to be like.”
After around 50 days at sea, the ship pulled into a Middle East port where the officers purchased “a lot of alcohol,” according to the cadet. She said she was pressured to drink alcohol by older men and supervisors on the ship.
The cadet said her male sea partner enjoyed drinking and she felt additional pressure to fit in, despite not having had any alcohol prior to arriving at the academy.
“As soon as I arrived the engineers began forcing shots of liquor on me and my sea partner,” she said. “They were like animals, drinking straight out of the bottles of liquor, doing shot after shot, being extremely annoying, yelling and laughing and making a lot of noise, and practically shoving shots down our throats.”
As she continued drinking, the cadet said, her sea partner became sick and was taken back to his room. The cadet said she blacked out shortly after, taking roughly another 8 to 10 shots of alcohol. The next morning, she woke up naked in her bed with a massive hangover and noticed blood on her sheets.
“I knew immediately that I had been raped,” the cadet said. “I was a virgin and had been saving myself, and as soon as I woke up I could feel that I was very sore and knew exactly what had happened.”
The cadet said she had glimpses of recollection from the time she was blacked out, including the engineering supervisor on top of her and forcing her to kiss him and perform oral sex. She said the supervisor denied the incident and told her “no one is ever going to believe you.”
The cadet, now a senior, said out of the 50 women in her class, she knows of at least five that were raped during their Sea Year.
Merchant Marine Academy Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley said in a statement that the cadet has their “unwavering support” and that while resources are provided by the academy after these events occur, it is important to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
“We have a zero-tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment at USMMA and in the maritime industry,” the statement read. “As we determine the appropriate steps required to increase and ensure the safety of our midshipmen, we pledge to listen to and work closely with the entire Kings Point community.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also released a joint statement saying that steps need to be taken to not have any more incidents of sexual assault or harassment while cadets receive their training.
“We must ensure that incidents of sexual harassment and assault are reported and prioritized, and that every single cadet feels safe whether on campus or at sea,” the statement read. “We will continue to work closely with the Merchant Marine Academy to put systems in place to ensure timely and thorough reporting.”
Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison
A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.
As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.
“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.
Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.
Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.
Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.
Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.
Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo
” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.
The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.
“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.
“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.
“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.
“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.
“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.
Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.
“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”
We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.
“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.
The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.
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