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Jamaica resorts covered up sexual assaults, silenced victims for years

She woke up on the shower floor crying and naked – choke marks on her neck, scratches on her body.

The 18-year-old au pair vacationing in Jamaica had no idea how she wound up in a bathroom near the pool until hours later: She had been drugged and raped, she said, and the resort did nothing to help her.

Instead, Sandals Resorts paid her American host family $25,000 as a refund for the July trip and had the parents sign a nondisclosure agreement, vowing to never speak of the incident.

But the victim never signed any such agreement. And she’s talking now.

“They know what happened. They know exactly who he was,” the au pair said. “My silence will not be bought. … They let someone get away with it.”

In the wake of a Free Press investigation that found sexual assaults of tourists are a long-standing and unchecked problem in Jamaica, where an estimated one American is raped a month according to State Department statistics, multiple victims have come forward with stories about cover-ups, confidentiality agreements and payoffs by resorts looking to protect their reputations and revenue.

Over the last several years, Jamaican resorts have silenced multiple sexual assault victims, discouraging them from calling the police or pressing charges, downplaying their fears and offering free hotel stays or cash refunds in exchange for a promise not to sue or tell anyone what happened, the Free Press found. Most of the alleged victims that shared their stories with the Free Press requested anonymity.

In some cases, the resorts convinced guests to just go home.

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