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11-year-old girl molested on Disney Dream; Disney Cruise Line doesn't report incident promptly

by Leah Zanolla
May 20, 2013

WKMG-6 of Orlando broke the story of a 33-year-old Disney Cruise Line (DCL) member allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl back in August while on board the Disney Dream. According to the story, the incident happened on August 5 in an elevator before the ship had even pulled away from Port Canaveral; the cruise line reportedly did not reveal the incident until the next day. Last week, DCL said the crime was reported to the police right away, but changed the story after speaking with WKMG and Port Canaveral authorities. The cruise line said other employees did not know about the incident until the next day; on August 5, they claim to only have known that a child was "made to feel uncomfortable." The investigation by Local 6 states that they have seen a confidential DCL security incident report, which appears to make DCL's statements false.

In the report, security began investigating the molestation (called an "inappropriate sexual act" in the report) on August 5 at 3:22 pm. The girl's report to security officers was that "the man had repeatedly grabbed her breast through her clothes and forcibly kissed her on the mouth as he corned her in an elevator on the Disney Dream."

Joseph Hellebrand, Port Canaveral police chief, said that if his department had known about the attack, "We would have sent an officer aboard the ship, we would have notified the detective, we would have interviewed the family, the victim, the suspect and if warranted, arrested the dining room server." The police have the right to go aboard any ship to investigate if the crime happens within 1,000 feet of its shoreline. Disney Cruise Line claims to have taken proper action in dealing with the incident.

Security footage from onboard the ship shows the girl and her grandmother heading to file a report at Guest Services only eight minutes after the incident; security investigation began at 3:22 pm. At 3:57 pm, he girl took the security officer to the elevator to show her where the cast member encountered her. The officer made note of the girl being uncomfortable as they were in the location. After reviewing the footage, the security officer confirmed that the girl's story was correct. The video was shown at 4:48 pm to a dining manager, who identified the crew member as Milton Braganza of India. The ship pulled out of port at 5:02 pm. Braganza was not pulled aside until 7:50 pm. He was then removed from duty and questioned again on August 6 and August 7 in Nassau, where the Bahamian police took over the investigation. He admitted to the police, "I touched her on her right breast with my left hand."

Ultimately, the grandmother decided to not pursue charges and wanted the investigation stopped. Chief Hellebrand said if the Florida police had known about the crime, charges would have been filed, even against the grandmother's wishes. The act is considered a lewd or lascivious molestation of a child under 12 and is a felony. If convicted, the crime would warrant 25 years to life in prison.

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