A judge has declined to dismiss rape and hate crime charges against a cruise ship employee accused of attacking a coworker, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Louie Ison Mangampat, 38, a citizen of the Philippines working aboard the Celebrity Equinox, was initially arrested in 2019 and charged with aggravated sexual abuse by force.
He has been jailed without bond at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, since his arrest.
A grand jury subsequently returned a superseding indictment in November under the federal hate crime statute, which charges that Mangampat “willfully caused bodily injury” to the victim because she is a lesbian.
Mangampat admitted to having sex with the woman, who is also a citizen of the Phillipines, “but claimed it was consensual,” according to the affidavit filed by an FBI special agent.
The FBI was tasked with investigating the reported attack because vessels on the high seas — the open ocean more than 12 nautical miles from shore — fall under federal jurisdiction.
Mangampat’s public defender filed a motion to dismiss the initial indictment on Nov. 26, 2019, arguing “that the United States does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate this matter as the alleged offenses did not occur in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
Before current U.S. District Court Judge Robert Molloy was assigned to oversee the case, former U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez denied the motion to dismiss at a hearing on Jan. 9, 2020.
But “because no reasons for the denial were stated on the record,” Molloy took it upon himself to consider the motion independently, and wrote in an order filed Friday that he “concurs that the motion to dismiss should be denied.”
Molloy explained his reasoning, and recounted the facts of the case in the four-page order.
The incident occurred on Sept. 25, 2019, at around 4 a.m., a day after the ship had left Florida for St. Thomas.
A female ship employee reported that Mangampat cornered her in a bathroom, where he assaulted and raped her, according to the FBI affidavit.
Other crew members immediately brought the woman to the ship’s medical unit for a physical examination, and a doctor noted the victim “identifies as a lesbian and had never had sexual intercourse with a male prior to this incident.”
The cruise ship security staff prepared an incident report that recorded the ship’s coordinates at the time the victim reported the assault, and “the nearest point of land was the Great Turk Island, which was approximately 40.5 nautical miles away,” Molloy wrote.
The U.S. Code defines the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States” and including the “high seas,” or waters at least 12 nautical miles outside a coastal boundary controlled by a particular state or territory, as stipulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“As such, provided that the alleged offense occurred on the high seas, farther than twelve nautical miles from any other national coastline, the United States has jurisdiction to try this matter,” Molloy wrote in denying the motion to dismiss.
A final pretrial conference is scheduled for Thursday, and trial is set to begin on Jan. 25.