Scary News from the Caribbean: Sexual Assault of U.S. Tourists

October 30, 2018, 11:46 AM

Hotel Riu Reggae in Montego Bay, where two Detroit women were raped at gunpoint in September.

The Freep's Tresa Baldas follows up her earlier story on the rape of two Detroit tourists in Jamaica with an excellent deep dive into what appears to be an endemic sexual-assault problem in Jamaica.

Baldas found two other Michigan women who were also raped during vacations at that island, and data suggests these are not isolated incidents:

Over the past seven years, 78 U.S. citizens have been raped in Jamaica according to State Department statistics from 2011-17. The victims include: A mentally handicapped woman in her 20s; an Indiana mother gang-raped by three Cuban soccer players in a resort bathroom stall; a 20-year-old woman raped by two men in her hotel; two Detroit mothers raped at gunpoint in their room; a Kent County teenager and her 21-year-old friend, gang-raped by lifeguards in a locked laundry room at the resort where they were staying.

Perhaps most alarming for tourists is that sexual assaults are occurring inside gated resorts — the place they are led to believe that they are most safe. For example, this year, the Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club, where the lifeguard assaults occurred in 2015, was given the Travelers Choice Award by TripAdvisor; it's the travel group's highest recognition given to the top 1 percent of hotels. . . .

As the State Department warned in a travel advisory this year:

"Exercise increased caution in Jamaica ... Sexual assaults occur frequently, even at all-inclusive resorts. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents."

None of the victims in the older cases Baldas explores saw satisfactory justice, either. The Cuban soccer players were arrested and detained for a few days, then released to return home. The lifeguards were arrested, but remain free on bail, three years after the assaults. 

Many Americans from cold climates enjoy vacationing in the Caribbean, and many depend on gated resort destinations to keep them safe in what can be perilous places. Baldas' article suggests these places may be anything but.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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