LOS ANGELES -- A Princess Cruise Lines crew member was charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting a female passenger in a deserted dining room while the ship was at sea off the coast of Mexico.
Jorge Manuel Teixeira, 38, is accused of aggravated sexual assault, a federal offense that carries a potential life prison sentence. Teixeira was arrested early Monday by FBI agents who boarded the Coral Princess when the cruise ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles.
At Teixeira's initial appearance in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, a federal public defender was appointed to represent him. U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Turchin also set a detention hearing for Thursday to determine if Teixeira can post bond.
"This was aggravated sexual abuse," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reema M. El-Amamy said outside court. "This was a crew member who met a passenger on the ship and proceeded to sexually assault her."
In an interview with an FBI agent, Teixeira denied attacking the woman, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint.
The alleged attack occurred around 11 p.m. March 5 during a 14-day cruise between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.
The 42-year-old victim -- whose name and hometown were not released -- reported to officials aboard the ship, and later to the FBI, that she had agreed to meet Teixeira in the ship's Bordeaux Dining Room where he worked as the head waiter, according to the affidavit.
The woman shared some wine with Teixeira at a back corner table, according to statements they both made to authorities. Once the wine was finished, Teixeira then assaulted the victim, according to the affidavit.
In the FBI interview, Teixeira admitted touching the woman's leg and "another part of the female guest's body as they left the table," the affidavit said.
Following the incident, the woman described to a ship security officer being assaulted by "George from Portugal." On-board officers then collected evidence from the woman and Teixeira, secured the site where the alleged attack took place, and restricted the head waiter to his cabin until the ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles on Monday, the affidavit said.
Once the ship docked, special agents with the FBI boarded the vessel, interviewed the victim and Teixeira and arrested him.
El-Amamy declined to say whether she knew if Teixeira had any prior arrests or convictions of a similar nature in his own country.
U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien explained that while the alleged attack took place far from United States borders, federal authorities have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes on the high seas.
"The attack alleged in this case warrants a thorough and swift prosecution to vindicate the rights of the victim and to inform the world that crimes like this will not be tolerated," he said.