A bartender on the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise cruise ship who was convicted on criminal charges after pocketing a room key and raping an unsuspecting passenger now faces a civil lawsuit from his cabin roommate who also claims she was raped, and impregnated.
Hoobesh Dookhy (24), pleaded guilty in court to abusive sexual conduct, a reduced charge from the initial, harsher charges. A passenger named HB filed a lawsuit against Classica Cruise Operator Ltd over an incident that occurred on May 20, 2023.
In her complaint, filed in West Palm Beach (Florida), her cabinmate, who was identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe”, or “SE”, made additional allegations. Spencer Aronfeld, her attorney, told the Sun Sentinel that she had waited because she still needed to process the incident.
According to the complaint, Dookhy served both women on May 5, during the ship’s voyage from Port of Palm Beach towards the Bahamas.
HB recalled she was “pretty drunk” when she reached her 10-drink limit and returned to the room at 1 a.m., but Dookhy, unbeknownst, had taken the key he used to charge drinks to the room.
Dookhy entered their room an hour or so later, according to court documents.
The lawsuit states: “HB claimed that while she was asleep, she was woken up by a man touching her breasts and kissing her neck. He also penetrated her vaginally.”
According to the lawsuit, earlier, the other female in the room also awoke to Dookhy’s sexual assault.
Dookhy, the women, and even the police agree that Dookhy took out his phone to take pictures of the women as they slept, while he groped. The woman who filed a civil lawsuit also claims she used her phone to record Dookhy sexually abusing her friend after asking him to leave.
According to the complaint at the time, the woman told cruise ship security agents and FBI agents in interviews that her roommate had been asleep when the assault occurred.
She initially reported to authorities that she woke up to Dookhy rubbing her face. After she asked him to stop, he went on to touch her friend. She thought Dookhy had left the room. According to The Washington Post, logs from ship key cards show that HB’s key – the one that was stolen – was used to reenter the room nine minutes after it had been locked.
The suit claims that HB’s lost room key was recovered later in Dookhy’s vest pocket.
It is not clear what the exact nature of the assault was against the first victim. She allegedly discovered she was pregnant a few months later. Aronfeld, who is married but did not do a paternity check, told the Sun Sentinel that she and her husband had not been sexually active around the time of the assault, due to medical reasons.
She realized that the bartender must be the father. Aronfeld stated that the woman had chosen to abort her pregnancy. She was out of state and had medical complications following her procedure.
Margaritaville is being sued by the woman for $75,000 in damages. The Palm Beach Post reported that the lawsuit was filed two months after U.S. district judge Robin Rosenberg dismissed the first woman’s request for punitive damages against the cruise liner.
The Washington Post reported that Dookhy confessed to drinking alcohol that night in his FBI interview. The Palm Beach outlet reported that he initially claimed his sex was consensual with HB, but then took a plea bargain to avoid a life sentence in prison.
According to the outlet’s report, the bartender will be sentenced on criminal charges by January 11. He could spend up to two years behind bars.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he is currently in FDC Miami.
Aronfeld said to the Sun Sentinel that “he may deny it.” “I don’t know. “But assuming that this incident happened as described, then there is no defense.”
According to Transportation Department statistics, sexual assaults are most often reported crimes aboard cruise ships. According to the cruise crime statistics for 2022, there were 30 sexual assaults reported across 13 cruise lines. 21 victims named other passengers as their attackers.
Palm Beach Post reports that between 2010 and 2012, major cruise ship passengers reported more than 500 sexual assaults.