Royal Caribbean Cruise employee sues Travolta for "harmful and offensive contact"
"This is another ludicrous lawsuit with inane claims," Travolta's lawyer says
Two male massage therapists dropped their suit against the actor in May
The alleged ship sex assault happened in 2009, the new lawsuit says
A cruise ship attendant claimed in a federal lawsuit that John Travolta sexually assaulted him during a Caribbean cruise in 2009, according to court documents filed last week.
Fabian Zanzi, who said he was assigned to be Travolta’s personal attendant, accused the actor of “harmful and offensive contact” by “removing his bath robe, grabbing plaintiff’s hand, and forcing his naked person and erect penis against plaintiff’s person,” the complaint said.
“This is another ludicrous lawsuit with inane claims,” Travolta lawyer Martin Singer said. “It is obvious that Mr. Zanzi and his lawyers are looking for their 15 minutes of fame.”
Another lawsuit, filed by two male massage therapists in April, accused Travolta of sexual assault at hotels in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Those plaintiffs withdrew their suit after firing their lawyer and hiring Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred to handle their case. Allred said at the time she was considering refiling their complaints in another court.
Singer called those charges “ridiculous” and denied media reports the actor had considered paying to settle the lawsuit.
Zanzi’s suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, claims the sexual assault happened on board the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship Enchantment of the Sea in June 2009.
The actor came on to the personal room attendant after he delivered food to his room, the suit said. Travolta complained of a pain in his neck and asked Zanzi to touch it. As Zanzi approached, Travolta dropped his bathrobe and “became completely naked,” the suit said.
“Travolta proceeded to forcefully embrace plaintiff,” it said, “causing plaintiff to continue to experience pain, shock, embarrassment, distress and fear.”
He then told Zanzi “that he was beautiful and asked plaintiff to ‘take me, I will take care of you, please,’” the complaint said.
When Zanzi asked to be released from the embrace, “Travolta maintained a hard and painful grasp on plaintiff’s hands,” the suit said.
The suit described the contact as “nonconsensual, inappropriate, extreme, and outrageous.”
Travolta offered Zanzi $12,000 for his “discretion and silence,” telling him to return to the suite later that night to collect the money, the suit said.
Instead, Zanzi – “in a state of pain, shock, embarrassment, distress and fear” – immediately reported the incident the the ship’s director, human resources manager and a staff captain, the suit said.
The human resources manager told him to fill out a report, but she “refused to allow plaintiff to write down any information regarding the nudity and/or sexual contact” with Travolta, the suit said.
She told him “unless he was bleeding and bruised, he did not suffer any injuries and thus could not obtain treatment or any other type of attention,” it said.
Instead of taking action against Travolta, the cruise line ordered Zanzi “restrained” in “a segregated room” for five days, until Travolta was off the ship, the suit said.
Zanzi claimed he was “persistent” in contacting the cruise line to file a claim against Travolta for the next two years, but he was repeatedly told it was being filed and to check back later. He has since filed an arbitration claim against the company, the suit said. A spokesman for the cruise company declined comment.
Zanzi is seeking unspecified monetary damages to be determined at a trial.
Travolta’s lawyer said the actor is confident he will “prevail on the merits and that he will be completely vindicated in court.”
“The lawsuit’s ridiculous claims are completely contradicted by what Mr. Zanzi told his employer back in 2009 when he was being disciplined for his own violations of company policy,” Singer said. “In his handwritten report three years ago, the only physical contact he claimed occurred was allegedly touching my client’s neck. The inappropriate conduct he alleges in his lawsuit is absent from his written report he submitted at the time. That glaring omission speaks volumes.”
The fact that Zanzi continued to work for the cruise line for years after “his employer supposedly restrained him in a room on the cruise ship for five days” calls his credibility into question, Singer said.
“Now, after waiting three years, and after getting paid to tell his story to the media, Mr. Zanzi has filed this absurd lawsuit,” he said.
Zanzi told his story in tabloid reports published in May, soon after the suit was filed by the two massage therapists.