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Bad Behavior on the High Seas

Mar 7, 2012

A pair of cruise ship crime incidents involving ships based out of Tampa made headlines this week: one involving a ship employee facing child pornography charges, and the other involving a passenger who managed to access a restricted area and drop the ship's anchor.

First, an assistant cruise ship director on the Norwegian Star was arrested Sunday by federal authorities, who allege he had sexual contact with a 16-year-old female passenger and later saved sexually explicit photographs of her on his computer.

According to the TBO.com, 29 year old Senad Djedovic met the girl during a cruise she was on with her parents.

Djedovic met up with the girl after a stop at Costa Maya, Mexico. The pair had a sexual encounter in a staircase, the complaint states. The FBI interviewed the girl's father, who told agents his daughter introduced him to Djedovic and he "specifically advised" Djedovic that his daughter was 16.

The federal complaint affidavit states that Djedovic and the girl exchanged emails after the cruise, as well as "naughty" photos of themselves. 

He also sent a video showing him masturbating with a sexually explicit photo of the girl in the background. The FBI recovered at least 13 graphic photographs of the girl from Djedovic's work computer, according to the complaint. Agents also recovered other sexually explicit pictures that appeared to depict other minor teens.

Djedovic, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines since 2006.

In the second case, Rick Ehlert of California was sentenced Tuesday for a November 2010 incident where he snuck into a restricted area aboard Holland America's MS Ryndam and dropped the ship's anchor. 

According to TBO.com, a federal judge sentenced Ehlert to four months incarceration — two months in a federal prison and two months of home confinement — followed by three years of probation. 

The MS Ryndam was returning to Tampa from Mexico on November 27, 2010, when Ehlert,  who reportedly thought the 18-ton anchor resembled the one on his own 50-foot boat, released the anchor, bringing the ship, which had been traveling at 18 knots, to a halt.

"Many people have asked me why I dropped the anchor," he later wrote in an apology letter to the ship's captain. "I believe that I was intrigued by the machinery and curious to see if I could operate it. I do remember trying to stop the anchor once it started moving, but it just kept going faster."

Ehlert's attorney blamed his client's actions on alcohol and the sleeping drug Ambien, while the cruise line's general counsel said the anchor's release could have punctured the ship, flooding or even sinking it. No one was injured in the incident. 

Surveillance video footage of Ehlert releasing the anchor can be seen by clicking here.