Luxury yacht rape victim wins $70M suit


TW: This entire post discusses multiple forms of trauma, violence, sexual assault, and mental health.

On February 25th, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale a stewardess was brutally raped by deckhand Rafal Dowgwillowicz-Nowicki. The intoxicated deckhand, aged 39, forced the victim to have ‘aggressive’ intercourse and oral sex, threatening to kill her if she did not comply. On the night of the attack, the stewardess was “raped for over an hour before she escaped and got the captain’s attention” said Edwards (the victim’s lawyer). The victim was not given a walkie-talkie to alert anyone and the intercom system which could have allowed the victim to call for help did not work as it was being refitted. The victim even tried to scream for help, but she was three floors below her supervisor meaning her cries for help was not heard.

The yacht owner’s failure to prevent cases like this happening is why they were also held accountable. Therefore, the owner of Endless Summer, a 130-foot luxury yacht, was forced to pay $70 million in damages including $70,000 in lost wages, $4.2 million in lost future earnings and $66 million for pain and suffering. The victim was also awarded $290,050 in past and future medical expenses, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Thus, the owner failed to offer the stewardess “prompt, adequate, and complete medical care” according to the suit.

Although there is a policy disabling intoxicated crew members from returning to their duties on the yacht, no one was on board that night to enforce. Meanwhile, the deckhand was found guilty of four counts of sexual battery and was sentenced to two years in jail in 2016. Rafal Dowgwillowicz-Nowicki was then deported to Poland according to sources.

The failure to provide property security and “negligently hiring and retain crew members with dangerous propensities” or warn the victim of these propensities according to sources. If background checks had been performed as part of the employment process, the yacht owner would have been aware of the deckhand’s “dangerous propensities.”

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