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Parents sue Disney Cruise Line for $20M over alleged sexual assault of 3-year-old daughter

The Vermont couple said in the suit that an older child assaulted the girl while they were in the Oceaneer Club on the Disney Fantasy ship.
Image: Disney Cruise Line announces fall 2020 deployment
The Disney cruise ship Fantasy.Joe Burbank / Tribune News Service via Getty Images
/ Source: NBC News

A Vermont couple filed a $20 million lawsuit alleging their 3-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by another child on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

The incident in question happened Jan. 9, 2020, during a seven-day cruise on the Disney Fantasy, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The parents, identified only as John and Jane Doe, allege that their child was in the Oceaneer Club when she was “physically restrained and sexually assaulted by a significantly older child.”

The lawsuit claims that Disney crew members entered the room where the alleged assault occurred “but failed to recognize ... the ongoing sexual assault.”

“The assault occurred in what was the plain view of one or more Disney counselors/crew members,” according to the suit.

The parents said in the lawsuit that the Oceaneer Club is for passengers between the ages of three and 12 and the children are allowed to play together “without restriction.”

The suit names Magical Cruise Company as a defendant. Disney Cruise Line is the business name of the company, according to NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa.

A Disney spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday that the 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,” the spokesperson said.

The FBI and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Michael Winkleman, an attorney for the parents, said Friday that his clients found out about the assault after they returned home from the cruise. Their daughter, who is fully potty trained, began having “wetting accidents” and tried to pull her father’s pants down after asking him to lie down with his eyes closed, Winkleman said.

“These incidents alerted them there was something amiss,” he said in an email.

However, the attorney acknowledged that “we do not even know the identity of the other minor involved yet.” The child’s age is unknown, too, Winkleman said.

The complaint lists five counts of negligence against the company.

A version of this story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.