2 Kentucky women say they were drugged, raped by Bahamas resort staffers, suspects arrested (2024)

Police in the Bahamas this week arrested two people on sexual assault charges after two American women on a Carnival cruise said they were drugged and raped while in the country.

The report comes on the heels of the United States Department of State issuing a travel advisory for the Bahamas − a popular for cruises and spring break vacations.

A "quick response" by officers in Grand Bahama, the northernmost island of the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean,resulted in the arrest of a 54-year-old man of Eight Mile Rock and a 40-year-old man of South Bahamia after they allegedly sexually assaulted two women on Sunday, the Royal Bahamas Police Force reported.

According to a preliminary report from the department, the attacks took place shortly after noon on Sunday while two females visited a beach in Central Grand Bahama.

The women, two mothers from Kentucky who identified themselves as Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson, told News Nation's Chris Cuomo they were "relaxing on a Grand Bahama beach" when a resort employee allegedly gave them drinks spiked with a co*cktail of drugs including benzodiazepines.

"They were given drinks – a coconut and pineapple drink − spiked with a series of drug and narcotics," the women's Miami-based attorney, Nicholas Gerson told USA TODAY Thursday. "They became inebriated and were both taken away and raped."

At the time of the reported attacks, Gerson said his clients, both 31, were unaware of the recent travel warning and "not aware of any warnings given by Carnival."

2 Kentucky women say they were drugged, raped by Bahamas resort staffers, suspects arrested (1)

When reached by phone on Thursday, Dobson's husband told USA TODAY he and his wife live in Lancaster, Kentucky, a small city about 35-miles south of Lexington.

He also said his wife and Shearer are childhood friends who both grew up in Danville, Kentucky, a town about 10 miles west of Lancaster and deferred additional questions to his wife's lawyer.

'A two-for-one drink deal'

Gerson said on the day of the alleged assaults, his clients went on an excursion called "Pirate's Cove Beach Getaway" and were taken to the island by a shuttle arranged by Carnival.

There, the attorney said, a resort staffer offered them a two-for-one drink deal, and after taking just a few sips, they realized something was off with the beverage.

Dobson told Cuomo the friends went to look for seashells for their children with "a male resort employee" and the next thing she remembered "was waking up while she was being assaulted by a uniformed male resort staffer."

“I came to in the process of my rape,” Dobson told Cuomo. “I want people to be safe... Two’s not enough." She said they "thought as best friends … that we could protect each other and to be safe."

That wasn't enough, she said.

Shortly after the reported rapes, both women told Cuomo, local authorities and other staff at the resort were able to identify the men accused of sexually assaulting the women through video surveillance.

The women took toxicology tests when they returned to the ship and reported the rapes, Gerson said

Toxicology results, he said, found little if no alcohol in his clients' systems, but the women tested positive for benzos and other drugs including cocaine.

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'Support for the two guests'

Carnival released the following statement to USA TODAY on Thursday:

"While ashore in Freeport, Bahamas on an independent shore excursion, two guests on Carnival Elation reported to Bahamian police that they were sexually assaulted at a local beach. Our onboard Care Team provided support for the two guests as they sailed back to Jacksonville. Bahamian police are investigating the matter and Carnival is providing our full cooperation."

As of Thursdays police had not released the names of the men they arrested.

The department's daily crime report log posted online showed the case remained open and under investigation.

A spokesperson for Pirate's Cove shared a statement with USA TODAY late Thursday afternoon that said managers took swift action as soon as the incident was reported and the business is cooperating with investigators.

"We regret that our guests experienced this incident, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to aid police in the collection of evidence in response to these allegations, including providing Police access to video from the sixteen cameras around the beach facility where the assault of the two guests allegedly occurred," the statement read. "Accusations of any kind are always thoroughly investigated by Pirates Cove management and, when warranted, the organization calls in local authorities.

Level 2 travel advisory

Last month, the Department of State issued aLevel 2 travel advisoryfor the Bahamas.

The advisory, posted on Jan. 26, warns travelers to "exercise increased caution" because of crime on the islands of New Providence including Grand Bahama, Nassau, and Freeport.

A security alert posted by theU.S. Embassy in the Bahamason Jan. 24 also reported that 18 murders have taken place in Nassau since the start of the year.

The alert warns that murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets.

"Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders," the embassy wrote.

Gerson said Carnival did not warn his clients about the travel advisory.

"The cruise line has a legal obligation to warn their passengers about danger they may know about and it applies to places passengers are visiting or expected to visit," Gerson said.

Contributing: Gabe Hauari

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.

2 Kentucky women say they were drugged, raped by Bahamas resort staffers, suspects arrested (2024)


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