A New York man is facing federal charges in connection to an assault on a Norwegian Cruise ship. Adam Damian Panetta, 45, was taken into custody after the cruise ship came into port in Boston on Friday, April 26, 2019. He has been charged for one count of assault resulting in substantial bodily injury, NBC New York reports.
Authorities say the Farmingville, New York native brutally assaulted a woman as the Norwegian Gem neared 200 miles off the coast of New Jersey. Court documents describe incidents captured on surveillance video in the cruise ship. As prosecutors describe the video, Panetta can be seen dragging the woman by her hair down a hallway of the ship, before the two arrive at a cabin door. When Panetta tried to open the cabin door, the woman reportedly slapped him across the face.
Then, Panetta turns to the woman and punches her twice in the head with his closed fist. He then entered the cabin, leaving the woman unconscious on the floor of the hallway. Panetta then emerges about a minute later and leans down to the woman, who appears to remain unconscious. After a few minutes, the woman begins to crawl into the cabin room, at which point Panetta kicked her twice in the buttocks as she crawled across the floor.
The two emerged from the room about thirty minutes later, the woman holding a blood-stained towel over her head. Later that day, the pair went to the ship's medical center. The woman was treated for swelling on her head and a laceration requiring five stitches. Reports suggest the ship had been on a seven-day cruise to Bermuda at the time.
Panetta's alleged attack is said to have occurred on April 25, 2019, when the Norwegian Gem was around 200 miles off the coast of New Jersey, beyond the demarcation line for international waters. The identity of the alleged victim has not been disclosed, and there is no word on what her relationship to Panetta was at the time of the incident. Prosecutors have not said whether Panetta and the woman knew each other before the cruise ship headed out to sea, but additional video footage taken from the ship's bar appears to show Panetta and the woman together having drinks around 2 a.m. on the morning of the assault. Around 2:14 a.m., the two were observed walking down a corridor hand in hand, authorities say.
According to Newsweek, the Norwegian Gem entered service in 2007. The ship routinely takes regional cruises embarking from ports in North America and Europe, with a capacity of 2,394 passengers. Panetta faces serious criminal penalties if convicted on the charges. If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison and $350,000 in fines.
This is not the first time Norwegian Cruise Line has come under fire over an alleged assault. In January 2018, an Iowa family filed a civil suit against the company after their 12-year-old daughter suffered an alleged sexual assault by a crew member in her cabin in February 2017. Despite the verdict of a criminal court, which found the alleged assailant not guilty last year, the family maintains that their daughter, identified as H.P. in court documents, was "sexually assaulted, sexually battered and sexually abused" as she took a nap in her cabin aboard the NCL Escape around 1 p.m. on February 16, 2017.
In their lawsuit, the family accuses Norwegian Cruise Line of negligence in screening prospective employees as crew members. The suit also takes aim at Norwegian's apparent practice of providing ship stewards with master keys that allow access to passenger cabins. The family is seeking more than $75,000 in financial damages, saying the alleged assault caused the plaintiff to suffer "bodily injury, emotional distress, mental anguish, pain, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, medical and psychological expenses." Norwegian has confirmed that the accused crew member no longer works for the company.
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