Luiz Scavone, 20, was arrested Fort Lauderdale, Florida, earlier this week for lewd and lascivious battery. Also arrested was an unnamed 15 year old boy. Both are accused of raping a 15 year old girl aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ship called the Allure of the Seas. It is not yet known if Luis Scavone or the boy are represented by a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.
According to local news sources, the girl and her family set sail from Fort Lauderdale on a ten-day Royal Caribbean cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas. On the last night of the cruise, the girl went to “Fuel,” an onboard teen club. Shortly before 2:00 o’clock in the morning, she was approached by a boy her age about a party being held in his cabin. The girl thought she would be meeting up with friends in his room and agreed to go with him.
However, much to her surprise, an adult male was waiting for her when she arrived at the room. The girl tried to leave the room by explaining that she had a curfew, but Luis Scavone and the 15 year old boy allegedly kept her against her will.
The girl claims that Luiz Scavone and the 15-year-old boy then raped her. As soon as she was able to leave the room, she immediately reported the rape to the cruise ship officials. According to a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman, the incident was immediately reported to the FBI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement subsequently boarded the ship and began a comprehensive sex crimes investigation. As a criminal defense attorney, I am sure this included a thorough sweep of the cabin for forensic evidence such as DNA, semen, fingerprints, and other trace evidence.
In a written statement, Royal Caribbean said they offered the girl assistance, including counseling and medical care. and also that the cruise line will “continue to support law enforcement agencies during their investigation.” Investigators will try to recover DNA and fiber evidence, as well as fingerprints from the room where the rape allegedly occurred, and will also be examining electronic evidence and interviewing passengers and staff to collect eyewitness accounts of the alleged incidence.
Under Florida law, when a person engages in sexual activity with a minor 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age, they are guilty of lewd and lascivious conduct. When perpetrated by an adult, lewd and lascivious battery is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
However, when an offender is under age 18, Florida law requires that the person be prosecuted in juvenile court where prison is not a sanction. In some exceptional cases, minors can be charged as adults and be sentenced to prison, commencing on their 18th birthday.
Insofar as any legal defenses are concerned, it is important to mention that Florida law specifically states that consent of the victim is not a defense to lewd and lascivious battery. In other words, when an adult has sex with a minor, but that minor is a willing or even a desirous participant, the fact that the sex was not forced is of no consequence. Put simply, it is illegal for adults to have sex with minors. Story end.
That does not mean that lewd and lascivious battery cases are indefensible, it simply means that consent is not a defense.
In cases like these, it is important for criminal defense attorneys to be mindful of defenses that arise to due misidentification, illegal search and seizure, as well as illegally obtained confessions.
Even in cases where a victim has been horrifically brutalized, the law requires that each and every allegation made by prosecutors be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
For this reason, Luis Scavone and the 15 year old boy need to hire the best criminal defense attorney they can find. Reviewing the evidence in this case, challenging the prosecution’s claims, and making sure that everything really is as alleged, are all necessary and must be conducted by a lawyer that not only knows the law, but knows how the law applies to lewd and lascivious battery cases.
Finally, it is important to mention that if these allegations are true, this case concerns a very unfortunate young woman who has been severely victimized against her will. I hope this is not the case, but if it is, my heart goes out to her. She will undoubtedly require substantial therapy and treatment to recover from an incident as tormenting and painful as this.