Two Kentucky women who say they were drugged and raped by staff at a Bahamian resort have accused Carnival Cruises of failing to alert them about a State Department warning against visiting the country.
Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson, both 31-year-old mothers, say they were attacked on the last day of their four-day cruise after the ship docked at Freeport on Grand Bahama on Sunday.
“You must be aware because our cruise line did not inform us of a travel advisory,” Shearer told NewsNation on Wednesday. ‘We had no idea what was happening in the Bahamas, no idea at all.
‘I just want people to be safe. Dongayla and I have been together for two decades as best friends and we thought we could protect each other and be safe and it’s not enough.
The US State Department issued two travel warnings for the country in late January advising “extreme caution” after a series of daylight murders and sexual assaults. Despite the warning, the ship still docked in the Caribbean nation.
Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson criticized Carnival Cruises for failing to notify them about a State Department warning about traveling to the Bahamas after they were allegedly drugged and raped during their voyage.
The US State Department issued two travel warnings for the country in late January advising “extreme caution” after a series of daylight murders and sexual assaults.
The women say they were hiking at Pirate Cove Resort when the attacks occurred.
“One of the problems with Carnival specifically in this case is that they have a legal duty to warn about dangerous conditions that they should have known about,” said the women’s attorney, Nicholas Gerson.
‘There is a federal statute, the Cruise Ship Safety Act of 2010, that requires victims of crimes on the high seas to be offered contact with the FBI, but none of that was offered.
‘Carnival actually promotes this particular tour on their website and they actually profit from the tour. So Carnival should have warned our customers, the warning should not have come from the State Department.
The women say they were on an excursion to Pirate’s Cove Resort, where they were
“We thought the drinks were too strong, but Dongayla and I are gastric sleeve patients, so we don’t really drink much,” Shearer explained. “Less than a few gulps into the second drink we knew something was terribly wrong.”
‘We have videos taken on our phones 15 minutes between the time we first had a drink and 15 minutes after, and our family and friends are sending us messages worried about us like, are you sure you only had one drink?’ Are you sure? Are you guys okay? Gibson added.
Carnival advertises the resort on its website saying, “Experienced, hospitable and friendly staff will ensure you have a memorable visit.”
The men then told the women they could help them find shells for their children at home and took them away.
The women say they were handed drug-laced drinks at the Pirate’s Cove resort. They began to feel strange and said that when they woke up they were covered in cuts and bruises.
Resort security footage shows that 15 minutes after receiving the drinks, the couple could barely stand.
The moms were enjoying their first kid-free vacation together, but things took a dark turn on their last day.
Lawyers for the women said Carnival has a fiduciary duty to customers to warn them about potentially dangerous travel conditions.
“At this point we’re feeling it a little bit, so we want to get out of the ocean and we’re going to look for seashells for our kids,” Dobson said.
“The guy, this worker that was there, said I know where tons of these are.”
“The man who raped me was the one who told us where to go to pick up the projectiles,” Shearer added.
Security footage from the complex shows that 15 minutes after receiving the drinks, the couple could barely stand as they were taken away under the influence of cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines.
The women said toxicology reports showed a cocktail of drugs in their system but no alcohol. Dobson said seeing the results “retraumatized” her, while Shearer added that the two were treated “like drug addicts.”
“I remember waking up and being pushed down,” Dobson told DailyMail.com.
‘I woke up in the resort bathroom and there were people around, I felt dirt on my legs and I knew what had happened.
“They told us we had been vomiting, which is good because the drugs would have killed us.”
A tearful Shearer also described how she ‘regained’ consciousness during the process of her rape and said the man she believes is responsible had not been working at the complex for a week, according to other workers.
“We were aware enough to know that they were in uniform and know the area we were going to and the resort security was able to obtain images at that same moment and identify that there were three guys. One who took us to look at the projectiles and there were already two there,” Dobson added.
The women claim their dire situation worsened when Bahamian police showed up and refused to give them rape kits.
“They treated us like criminals and denied us rape kits after asking repeatedly,” Shearer said.
“We were forced to show where our rapes took place and to confront the men who raped us,” she added.
The couple’s last memory was consuming drinks (pictured) on the beach before entering the resort bathroom with bruises on their legs.
The women say their dire situation only worsened with the arrival of Bahamian police, who they say downplayed their attacks and refused to give them rape kits.
Four-day Carnival cruise on Carnival Elation stops in Nassau and Grand Bahama
Pirate’s Cove Zipline and Waterpark is Grand Bahama’s first adventure theme park
‘There was an American FNP (family nurse practitioner) who tried to stay with us and was denied that right.
“They told us that if we went to a hospital in the Bahamas they would not help us return to the United States.”
The women claimed they were taken to a bathroom and “forced to urinate” and “clean up the evidence.”
“They made us change out of our one-piece swimsuits and into our swimsuit covers,” Dobson told News Nation.
‘We were told that if we wanted justice or rape kits we would have to go to the hospital in the Bahamas, however the US embassy had already refused to help us so we would be on our own and would have to pay our own way back. But we didn’t have passports.
“Today I spoke to the US embassy and they never contacted them.”
Police arrested a 54-year-old man from Eight Mile Rock and a 40-year-old man from South Bahama after resort staff showed them security footage of the women being taken away.
Police have not identified the suspects, but local reports suggest one is connected to a powerful figure in the islands who is leveraging his influence to secure his brother’s release.
Dailymail.com received an anonymous call insisting that the investigation is at an early stage and urging not to report on allegations of political involvement.
The company offered advice, but the friends were eager to return to their families as soon as possible and flew back to Kentucky on Monday night.
In a statement, Carnival Cruise Line said: “While ashore in Freeport, Bahamas, on a separate shore excursion, two Carnival Elation passengers reported to Bahamian police that they had been sexually assaulted on a local beach.
‘Our onboard care team provided support to the two guests as they sailed back to Jacksonville. “The Bahamian Police are investigating the matter and Carnival is providing our full cooperation.”
Dailymail.com has contacted Carnival and Pirate’s Cove for comment.