A man from Ohio was sentenced to 2 years in prison after pleading no contest to participating in attack on a teenager who made a lewd comment to his daughter on Royal Caribbean ship.
33-year-old Jason Lawson was charged with child abuse and false imprisonment for refusing to let the boy leave the library of Independence of the Seas cruise ship on August 16, 2015. Lawson's brother-in-law, Arturo Martinez, had overheard the boy offering Lawson's daughter a "key chain for her virginity," according to arrest reports.
Prosecutors said Lawson did nothing as Martinez, 31, simulated a sex act on the boy after forcing him to pull down his pants.
Lawson apologized repeatedly on Monday, telling Broward Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey that he was embarrassed by his conduct and his failure to stop the attack as it unfolded in front of him.
"I'm so sorry," he said, apologizing at least seven times over the course of a statement that lasted about three minutes.
"I didn't mean any harm. This was not me."
Lawson described himself as a basketball and football coach with a reputation for helping teenagers. He worried about losing his job and being unable to provide for his wife and four children.
But Bailey, rejecting pleas for leniency, noticed something Lawson did not say.
"Remorse should be focused on the victim," Bailey said. "That was not in your statement at all."
Prosecutor Patyl Oflazian said Lawson was largely responsible for the attack because he was the person best poised to stop it from escalating.
"Instead he stood there and looked out for his brother-in-law," Oflazian said.
Lawson's prison term will be followed by five years of probation, during which he will not be allowed to coach children under the age of 18.
Martinez has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. His next court date is scheduled for April 6.
For reports on other Independence of the Seas ship accidents see at CruiseMinus.com