Feb 19 (Reuters) – A cruise ship attendant confessed to raping a female passenger on Valentine’s Day and trying to toss her overboard to cover up the crime, according to an arrest affidavit filed on Tuesday in Miami federal court.
The 31-year-old passenger, identified only as CLW, fought off the attendant in her stateroom and on a balcony, and managed to flee into the hallway with the cord of her curling iron still wrapped around her neck from his attempt to choke her, the affidavit stated.
The attack occurred aboard Holland America’s MS Nieuw Amsterdam ship which departed Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 9 on a Caribbean cruise.
Ketut Pujayasa, 28, a room service attendant from Indonesia, was arrested when the ship returned to port on Sunday on charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault.
“At Holland America Line, the safety of our guests is our highest priority, and we are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident,” said Stein Kruse, president and chief executive of Holland America Line in a written statement.
“To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred in our company’s 140-year history.”
Pujayasa told FBI agents that he became angry at the victim when he delivered her breakfast to her room the morning before the attack. Pujayasa said he knocked on her door three times before he heard her say, “Wait a minute, son of a bitch.”
Pujayasa told the FBI that he remained angry all day, going twice to her room to find her and then trying to locate her on a public deck, but finally let himself into her room with a master key to wait for her return that night. Pujayasa said he fell asleep on her balcony and awoke to find her in bed.
He said he sexually assaulted her as punishment for the insult, and beat her with a laptop and her electric curling iron.
CLW told the FBI that she kept trying to scream for help but Pujayasa tried to strangle her. She said she bit his hand and tried to stab him with a corkscrew.
The fight moved to the balcony where Pujayasa said he tried to throw her into the ocean, knowing that the ship was underway and she would be hard to find in the darkness.
A security system on the ship captured still images of Pujayasa, half naked, jumping from balcony to balcony as he made his get-away after the attack, according to the affidavit.
Holland America said it conducted a routine pre-employment criminal background check of Pujayasa in 2012 who was found to have a clean record and good references. The company said it has terminated his employment.
The victim, who said she fell unconscious during part of the attack, was taken off the ship during a scheduled stop later that morning in Roatan, Honduras, and air-lifted to a hospital in South Florida (Editing by David Adams and Bernard Orr)
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