CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – A family is suing Disney Cruise Lines, saying their 3-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by an older child inside a daycare center on the ship due to staff shortages and poor staff training.
The lawsuit, filed last month in federal court in Orlando, says employees working at the Disney Fantasy daycare center failed to inform them of the assault during the January 2020 trip and were not adequately trained or licensed to work with the children.
Disney Cruise Line spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told the Orlando Sentinel that the family’s allegations were “completely baseless.”
“The plaintiffs’ initial allegations have been made known to the FBI, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has investigated and determined that they are unfounded,” Martinez said in a statement. “The plaintiffs are now back with a different, equally unfounded, story that another little girl acted inappropriately with her own child. We will vigorously defend this case in court.”
The lawsuit, which is asking for $20 million, says employees had to separate children by age group to reduce the risk of sexual abuse, and employees had to place the child in custody of younger children. Michael Winkelman, a lawyer representing the family from Vermont, said the child accused of inappropriately touching the girl has not been identified to the family.
“It’s easy to say that this is a parent’s worst nightmare,” Winkelman told the Orlando Sentinel. “They went on a Disney cruise, and they put their baby, basically, in Disney’s day care. It’s about the last thing they can imagine happening.”