Two Kentucky women are warning of the dangers of traveling after the dream Carnival cruise they took to the Bahamas took a dark turn on Sunday.
Best friends Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson say they got off the ship when it pulled into port at Grand Bahama and took a cab to a local resort.
After they were offered a two-for-one drink special by resort staff, they immediately began feeling ill.
“Less than a few drinks into the second drink, we knew something was wrong,” Shearer told NewsNation’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday. “Something was terribly wrong.”
After drinking their cocktails, the duo headed to the beach to search for seashells. There, they say, a male resort staff member approached them and said he knew of a good place to find the pretty moments, NewsNation reports.
Shearer’s next memory is of being attacked.
“I came to in the process of my rape,” she said.
Though drugged, Dobson said they recognized their attackers’ attire.
“We were just conscious enough to have, or just aware enough, to know that they were in uniforms,” she said.
To ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Dobson gave a few more details.
“I vaguely remember glimpses of his face. I don’t remember all of it,” she said. “I don’t remember everything, but I remembered enough of that — he was a staff worker, and he had a goatee, and he was a local — that the resort security was able to pull the footage and identify them right then and there.”
After the horrifying ordeal, the friends say they were further victimized by the local authorities, “who they say didn’t administer proper sexual assault test kits and viewed them as though they were criminals when they reported the assaults,” according to NewsNation.
Traces of benzodiazepines, among other drugs, were in their systems, their toxicology reports revealed.
For Dobson, it was traumatizing proof of their allegations.
“To see the things that showed up on my [toxicology] screen was just traumatizing all over again,” she said.
But other reports indicate that the Bahaman authorities moved fast to apprehend the suspects.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force recognizes “the seriousness of such matters and handles them with the highest level of professionalism, privacy and sensitivity,” they said in a press release, according to ABC News.
“Police began their investigation upon learning of the incident and arrested two men — a 54-year-old man from Eight Mile Rock and a 40-year-old man from South Bahamia,” ABC News reports. “Officers later boarded the ship and provided a sexual assault kit, hospital form from the ship’s medical doctor and obtained the women’s statements, police said.”
The FBI has joined the Royal Bahamas Police Force for the investigation.
“Through the FBI’s Legal Attaché office in Nassau, we have strong, established relationships and stand ready to assist in any way the Bahamian government may request,” the FBI said in a statement. “We refer you to Royal Bahamas Police Force, which is leading the investigation, for any comment on this matter.”
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruises noted that Shearer and Dobson were on “an independent shore excursion” at the time of the alleged attack.
“While ashore in Freeport, Bahamas, on an independent shore excursion, two guests on Carnival Elation reported to Bahamian Police that they were sexually assaulted at a local beach,” the company told ABC News in a statement. “Our onboard care team provided support for the two guests as they sailed back to Jacksonville. Bahamian Police are investigating the matter and Carnival is providing our full cooperation.”
And, according to the Daily Mail, the Pirate Cove resort beach resort is claiming that the surveillance video the women viewed does not support their claims.
“Upon further review of the surveillance videos, the allegations made onsite, and in subsequent social media posts and news stories, conflict with what the time-stamped surveillance videos contain,” the resort said in a statement.
Pirate Cove did, however, fire the arrested staffers.
“While there is an active police investigation into these serious allegations, we have terminated the employment of the two accused, as the behavior seen on tape by management indicates that at a minimum, they violated our zero-tolerance policy,” it said.
Shearer and Dobson hope their story will serve as a warning to would-be travelers.
“I want people to be safe,” Shearer told NewsNation. “Two’s not enough. Dongayla and I thought as best friends … that we could protect each other and to be safe, and it’s just not enough.”
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