Carnival Cruise Line to pay over $10M in damages after jury finds crew member sexually assaulted a passenger aboard a ship

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A Miami-based federal court returned a more than $10.2 million judgment against Carnival Cruise Line in favor of a passenger who claims a former crew member raped her in a storage closet aboard the Carnival Miracle in 2018, court records show.

A jury issued a verdict Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida that holds the plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, guilty of false imprisonment and sexual assault by crew member Freddie Angara in December 2018.

The jury separately found that Carnival was not negligent and that the former crew member did not intentionally cause Don emotional distress.

The plaintiff filed a complaint against Carnival Cruise Line in November 2019, nearly a year after the incident. Angara is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

At the time of the sexual assault, the complainant was 21 years old and traveling with her friend and her friend’s family, according to the complaint.

According to court documents, the incident happened in the early hours of December 2, 2018, the last night of the cruise. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Daniel Courtney, after having dinner with his friend and two other passengers, the plaintiff was highly intoxicated.

Court documents show the complainant also slipped and hit her head on the ship’s pool deck.

Soon after, the plaintiff confronted Angara, then 27, and claims she was with him in a closet where the sexual assault took place, court documents show.

“Doesn’t remember going in or out of the closet, but Mr. Angara held his hand when he entered. “Doe believed that Mr. Angara kept the closet door locked,” court documents show.

Carnival Cruise Line says the incident between the plaintiff and Angara was consensual, according to a statement issued Tuesday, and plans to appeal the court’s decision.

“The crew member admitted that he had a consensual sexual encounter with a guest that was consistent with the FBI’s investigation,” the statement read.

After the incident, FBI agents came aboard and questioned the complainant, the complaint states. The plaintiff then made a statement while video recording by Carnival.

CNN has contacted the FBI and filed an FOI request to investigate the incident.

Before trial, the court found that Doe had proven his false imprisonment claim.

In an opinion, the court ruled, “There is no evidence that a jury could rely on to disprove Don’s undisputed recollection that at any point in the closet Mr. Angara did not let her out of the closet. For that period, plaintiff’s claim for false imprisonment is established as a matter of law.”

Angara was fired immediately after the incident, according to Carnival’s zero-tolerance policy for crew fraternizing with guests, according to a Carnival statement.

After the incident, Angara told Carnival in a written statement that according to court records, the plaintiff chose to go into the closet with Angara and have sex.

Courtney, the plaintiff’s attorney, maintains that her client is a victim of sexual assault.

“I am very grateful that my client was able to experience a well-run, orderly and fair trial, despite Carnival’s best efforts to poison the jury with inappropriate comments throughout the proceedings,” Courtney said in a statement Wednesday. “We fully expect to appeal to Carnival because they have never done the right thing when it comes to my brave client.”

Courtney also told CNN that Angara was not arrested after the incident and it is unclear where he is now.

CNN could not reach Angara.

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