The voyage on Imagination was to be the last on-duty trip for Jane Doe, 27, the ship's head nurse, a petite 27-year-old from New England who had been with Carnival for three years. Several weeks before, she decided it was time to move on and accepted a job at a hospital up north.
She alleged an officer, engineer Yurij Senes raped and sodomized her August 13, 1998 in her cabin aboard the cruise ship Carnival Imagination.
She says the 29-year-old, bushy-haired, bespectacled engineer tapped on the door of her cabin around 9:30pm. Jane says Senes already had professed his attraction, but she told him she wasn't interested. Nonetheless the two had become friends, often playing video games in his cabin, so she let him in.
He was very nice, bringing me soda and getting ice for my knee. I was unable to bend my knee at all, and was very uncomfortable. We were watching TV and talking. He had brought a bottle of wine with him and he drank the whole bottle as the night progressed. Senes said he had to work at 5:00 a.m. in the engine room and begged to be allowed to sleep in her cabin until his shift began. There would be no hanky-panky, she said. He promised to be good. "He was nice and respectful to me and acted like a gentleman, so I felt I had no reason to fear him," she wrote. Wearing shorts and a T-shirt, Jane prepared to go to sleep. Because of her injured knee, she allowed Senes to help her climb into bed. As he tucked her in, he tried to kiss her. "I told him to just leave if he couldn't keep his hands to himself," she wrote. Senes apologized and said "he just wanted to be near me." She allowed him to stay.
At 4:00 a.m. he got up to go to work. Before leaving he asked her for a kiss. He was insistent, she stated. She allowed one kiss, hoping that would get rid of him. Then he wanted another one. He began groping her. She told him to stop. "He kept saying he likes me very much, he needed me, and 'wanted to feel my skin.'... He did not stop; he kept touching me and pulling at my clothes. He turned me over, even though I told him he was hurting me.... I constantly said, 'Stop, I don't want to do this. Just go away.'" Senes held her down, she wrote, covered her mouth with one hand, and sodomized her. "It only lasted a few minutes," she recalled. By then she was crying hysterically. He tried to comfort her and made her give him a kiss before leaving for work.
Jane was hysterical throughout the morning. At 8:30 a.m. she went to the infirmary to talk to a fellow nurse and friend, Cathy Wieland, but couldn't find her. Jane returned to her room, then walked again to the infirmary at 11:00 a.m., to no avail. Eventually she found Wieland, who convinced her to tell the ship's officers of the rape. By 2:00 p.m. Jane was recounting the episode for the ship's chief of security, José Buelto. A little later, to prove her story, she lured Senes to an empty cabin and secretly turned on the intercom. Buelto, Wieland, and staff captain Vito Giacalone listened in.
"She asked him, 'Why did you do this when I kept telling you no?'" Wieland says. "His exact words were, 'Because I am an egoist.'"
Her attorney, Gary Fox said Carnival tried to cover it up and assisted the accused man in fleeing the country back to Italy before the FBI could question and detain him.
The cruise line said Senes was fired for drinking within six hours of going on duty and for being tardy, and he was sent to Italy "in accordance with federal repatriation laws" for fired workers.
Senes was charged in September 1998 with one federal count of rape on the high seas, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, said U.S. Attorney Jennifer Prior.
The woman sought unspecified damages and wanted Carnival to supply ships with special kits for rape victims and to assist prosecutors' efforts to win Senes' extradition.
Carnival Cruise Lines, a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., gave few details of the 62 allegations investigated by company security staff other than to say each matter was referred to police if the accuser wished.
To that date, the list of those accused of sexual assaults included, cabin stewards, casino dealers, waiters, security staff, musicians, dancers, hairdressers and managers.
Other lawsuits around this time claim that a Carnival crew member raped a Georgia woman in 1998 and that a Royal Caribbean crew member stripped and sexually assaulted a teen-age boy after serving him a dozen glasses of champagne.