The Harmony of the Seas cruise ship, one of the largest in the world with multi-story waterslides, zip lines and surf simulators, is a family favorite. But the discovery of a hidden camera in a public restroom during a recent voyage has many passengers questioning their enthusiasm after the FBI said children as young as 4 or 5 were victims of inflight video voyeurism.
According to an FBI statement in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant, on April 30, the day after the Royal Caribbean ship departed Miami for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, a man identified as Jeremy Froias allegedly hid a Wi-Fi camera in an upper deck bathroom, pointing its lens towards the bathroom. The bathroom was next to one of the ship’s surf simulators and many passengers used it to change into their bathing suits.
A day later, the camera was spotted by a passenger who reported it to the ship’s security personnel. They found hours of footage showing more than 150 people, including what appear to be at least 40 minors – some of whom were at least partially nude, the billing document said.
The ship stopped in Puerto Rico, where the FBI arrested Mr. Froias and accused him of video voyeurism and attempted possession of child exploitation material.
“Individuals are seen entering the bathroom to use the toilet or change bathing suits,” reads the affidavit. “Froias’ camera captured these individuals in various stages of undress, including capturing videos of their bare genitals, buttocks and female breasts.”
Mr. Froias is a former cybersecurity officer in Kissimmee, Central Florida. Footage retrieved from the camera shows Mr. Froias installing the device, said the affidavit. During an interview with cruise ship security personnel on May 1, he admitted to placing the camera in the bathroom, according to court documents.
Leo Aldridge, a San Juan attorney representing Froias, declined to answer questions about the case. “Sir. Froias has not yet been indicted. Therefore, as no criminal charges have been formally filed at this time, we have no comment,” he said in a written statement.
The FBI did not return a request for comment.
Froias appeared at a detention hearing in Puerto Rico this week, and a federal judge ordered his release on the condition that he post a $25,000 bond, wear an electronic monitoring device and turn in his passport. He is not allowed to access the internet or have unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, including his two children.
Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney who has represented victims in other voyeurism cases, questioned the bail amount. “A $25,000 bond may be appropriate for a single victim, but considering there are at least 150 victims and many dozens of children, according to the FBI affidavit, a bond should not be less than $1,000,000,” he said. he. He said he was contacted by passengers who were on Harmony of the Seas during the incident.
Passengers said that Royal Caribbean failed to notify them of the hidden camera during and after sailing. They said they found out through the media and an FBI notice seeking to identify potential victims.
“It’s scary that passengers and their children were secretly filmed while they were naked using the bathroom,” said April Wise, 52, who was on the cruise with her husband and niece. “Fortunately we didn’t use that bathroom, but thousands of people were on the ship and still don’t know if they were filmed or not. It is unacceptable that Royal Caribbean has not contacted the victims.”
Royal Caribbean declined to comment but sent an emailed statement, saying: “We are aware of an incident that occurred aboard the Harmony of the Seas cruise on April 29. School subjects was immediately reported to local and federal authorities and the guest involved was removed from the vessel by authorities for further investigation. As this is an active case, we cannot share further details at this time.”
It is not the first time such an incident has occurred on a cruise ship. In March, an MSC Cruises crew member was caught filming women in a bathroom. In 2017, a family found a hidden camera pointed at their bed in their stateroom on board the Carnival Fantasy, but after conducting an investigation, the cruise line said the camera was not working.
“It’s so easy for predators to buy small, cheap cameras these days,” Wise said. “Checking them needs to be part of cruise ship security protocol.”
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