In 2014, it was reported that a 36-year-old Disney Cruise Line steward by the name of Ahmed Sofyan held a 13-year-old girl in an unoccupied cabin and molested her. Sofyan was charged with two counts of molestation and one count of false imprisonment for these crimes.
At the time when the story was released, an ex-Disney Cruise officer by the name of Dawn Taplin came forward to reveal that a similar instance of child molestation had occurred two years before the Sofyan incident, but that it was covered up by Disney.
Taplin claimed that Disney authorities, much like the mafia, told her to keep quiet about the attempted child rape or else. She came forward anyway, wanting to do the right thing and because she was present on the cruise ship where the incident occurred.
It was the year 2012 when a Disney cruise ship employee was caught on camera molesting an 11-year-old girl in an elevator, Taplin revealed. The incident should have been reported to the authorities, but Disney higher-up told security on the ship to keep it under wraps.
Taplin ended up interviewing the young victim herself after she and her grandmother reported the crime to Guest Services. Having served as a police officer for 17 years before being hired by Disney, Taplin said she found the surveillance footage disturbing.
Disney waited until after ship was outside U.S. jurisdiction to report child molestation to foreign authorities
According to reports, the molestation occurred while the cruise ship was still docked at Port Canaveral in Florida. Passengers were still boarding the ship at the time, and as recalled by Taplin they “weren’t going anywhere for another two hours or so.”
Since the ship was technically still on land, Taplin notified the ship’s second-in-command and offered to call her contact at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Taplin received a much different response, however, than she was expecting.
“I was ordered not to make any phone calls, do anything at all. Nothing. Period,” Taplin recalled. “Just keep your mouth shut.”
“If a crime is committed while you’re hooked up anywhere here, it is an American, it is a United States, it is a Florida crime.”
Several hours later, the ship departed as planned and the suspected perpetrator, Milton Braganza, was still on board. Other children were potentially put at risk, in other words, by Disney’s decision to protect its own reputation rather than pursue justice.
The Disney Cruise Line waited until the next day after the cruise ship had already left U.S. waters to report the incident to Port Canaveral police, which then passed it on to the U.S. Coast Guard, which then passed it on to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
“In my professional and personal opinion, I think they wanted to get outside the United States limits and get him off the ship in the Bahamas and just leave it alone,” Taplin said.
Once the ship arrived in Nassau, Braganza confessed to the act, but the child’s grandmother chose not to prosecute. It remains unclear as to why nothing was done to prosecute Braganza.
Braganza was later flown back to his home country of India at Disney’s expense. The company both arranged and paid for his flight back home.
Taplin said she believes that “Disney wouldn’t have gotten away with it if they were Americans.” About a week later, she resigned from her position after working for the Disney Cruise Line for nine months.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek, meanwhile, has vocally opposed Florida’s anti-grooming legislation, which aims to protect children from sexual predators like the ones who work on Disney Cruise Line ships.
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