A family from Vermont says their 3-year-old was sexually assaulted by another child on a cruise back in January 2020 — and blames Disney staff for letting it happen.
What the child allegedly told her dad about a vacation memory led to suspicions that she was inappropriately touched, and this led to a lawsuit filed against the Disney Cruise Line.
"The 3-year-old, who is potty trained, she started having wetting accidents and then she re-enacted the scene with her father, where she basically told her dad, lie down and take his pants off," said attorney Michael Winkleman. "Of course, the dad says, 'Honey, wait a minute, that's not appropriate. Did that happen to you?'"
Winkleman represents the family, who is referred to as “The Does” in the lawsuit.
They first reported to police that they thought a staff member touched their daughter. But months later, Winkleman says he saw CCTV footage, which he couldn't provide because he was only allowed to view it, not record or copy.
He says the video actually shows a 10-year-old dressed in a Star Wars Princess Leia costume inappropriately touching the 3-year-old.
"The older child starts spooning the younger child, holds her still, and then moves her hand directly between her legs and leaves it there for an extended period of time," Winkleman said.
But in a police report obtained by NBC 6, an investigator wrote he didn’t see anything inappropriate on the video. Multiple reports from multiple agencies either found no evidence of an assault or couldn’t determine if an assault happened.
But Winkleman insists his investigation found wrongdoing, and that he's not sure what video police looked at. He says the act is clearly seen on CCTV footage.
"I think lucky for the family, you see the act on CCTV footage. I say lucky it was on CCTV because if it was not, it would be a difficult thing to prove," Winkleman said.
The lawsuit blames Disney for allowing children of different ages to be together at daycare and the counselors who it claims didn’t do their job and watch the children closely.
“This lawsuit is wholly without merit. The plaintiffs’ first allegations were reported to the FBI, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s office investigated them and determined them to be unfounded. The plaintiffs have now come back with a different story, which is equally unfounded, that another young female child acted inappropriately with their child. We will vigorously defend this case in court," Disney said in a statement.
The victim's family is seeking a $20 million settlement.