The Bahamas beach resort where two Kentucky mothers allege that they were drugged and raped has claimed that their version of events does not match. Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer, both 31, claim that on Sunday, they were assaulted by uniformed staff at Pirate's Cove beach resort on Grand Bahama during an excursion from their Carnival Cruises ship.
They allege that the men provided them with spiked cocktails and then sexually assaulted them after leading them away under the pretense of collecting seashells. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident but their identities have not been revealed by Bahamian police. However, the resort has made contradictory claims.
Now a Second Version
Dobson and Shearer claim that the incident was captured on surveillance camera footage, which they and the police viewed before returning to the ship. However, Pirate's Cove, in a statement on Thursday, claimed that the video does not corroborate their account.
"Upon further review of the surveillance videos, the allegations made onsite, and in subsequent social media posts and news stories, conflict with what the time-stamped surveillance videos contain," Pirate's Cove beach resort said in a statement.
"While there is an active police investigation into these serious allegations, we have terminated the employment of the two accused, as the behavior seen on tape by management indicates that at a minimum, they violated our zero-tolerance policy."
Dobson and Shearer also blamed Carnival Cruise for not informing them about the warning issued by the Department of State about the dangers of traveling to the Bahamas.
Carnival, on the other hand, has maintained that the two friends were not part of the $57 excursions to the beach offered by the cruise line.
However, the cruise company's website continues to sell these trips to passengers docking at the islands, promising 'true Bahamian relaxation.' Carnival contends that the women ventured out independently.
"While ashore in Freeport, Bahamas on an independent shore excursion, two guests on Carnival Elation reported to Bahamian police that they were sexually assaulted at a local beach," Carnival said in a statement.
"Our onboard Care Team provided support for the two guests as they sailed back to Jacksonville. Bahamian police are investigating the matter and Carnival is providing our full cooperation."
The two women departed from Jacksonville, Florida, on February 1 for their first kid-free trip abroad. According to Dobson, who spoke to the Daily Mail, the two women came across Carnival's advertisements for Pirate's Cove on the last day of their four-day cruise and decided to join.
"There were other people from the cruise on the beach so there weren't red flags for us," she added.
Carnival promotes the resort on its website, asserting that the "experienced, hospitable, and cordial staff will ensure you have a memorable visit."
Upon arrival, the women claim they were approached by two men they believed to be part of the resort's hospitality, offering them drinks.
They accepted the offer and even took photos with the tropical drinks – one served in a pineapple and the other in a coconut.
However, they soon realized that the drinks were much stronger than expected.
In videos sent to their families, the women assert that their deterioration is evident. "We have videos taken on our phones 15 minutes between when we first go the drink and 15 minutes later and our family and friends are messaging us concerned about us like are you sure you only had one drink? Are you sure, are you guys okay?" Dobson added.
"Less than a few [sips] into the second drink, we knew something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong," Shearer said.
They then started searching for seashells to bring back for their children when a male resort staff member offered to guide them to the best spot for finding shells.
However, the next thing Shearer could recall was waking up while being raped by a uniformed male resort staffer. "I came to in the process of my rape," she told NewsNation, breaking down.
"I woke up in the resort bathroom and there were people all around, and I just felt dirtiness on my legs, and I knew what had happened. They told us we had been throwing up -which is a good thing because the drugs would have killed us."
The women claim that their ordeal worsened when Bahamian police arrived, alleging that the authorities refused to provide them with rape kits despite their repeated requests.
"We were treated as criminals and refused rape kits after asking repeatedly. We were forced to show where our rapes took place and to face the men who raped us," Shearer said.
"There was an American FNP (family nurse practitioner) who tried to stay with us and was refused that right. We were told if we went to a Bahamian hospital they wouldn't help us return to the US."
The women asserted that they were taken to a bathroom where they were allegedly "forced to urinate" and "wipe away the evidence."
"They had us change out of the one-piece swimsuits and into our swimsuit covers," Dobson told NewsNation.
"They told us that if we wanted any justice any rape kits we would have to go to the Bahamian hospital however the US Embassy had already refused to help us so we would be on our own and would have to pay our own way back. But we didn't have passports.
"I talked to the US Embassy today and they never contacted them at all."
On the cruise ship, the mothers received the results of their toxicology tests, which indicated the presence of various drugs in their systems, including benzodiazepines. Their tests also revealed minimal alcohol levels and evidence of bruising on their legs, as reported by Kentucky NBC affiliate station Lex18.
"To see the things that showed up on my [toxicology] screen was just traumatizing all over again," Dobson said.
Now back in Kentucky, the women have hired a lawyer to seek justice and are undergoing medical care, including the use of $4,000 HIV prevention medication, as reported by the local station.