Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-05) announced that Laurie Dishman, a Sacramento resident, is being awarded the “Unsung Hero” award by the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus.
Laurie Dishman, was a keynote at Denim Day ‘07, is a CALCASA speaker’s bureau member, and has been advocating to change cruise industry policies.

The “Unsung Hero Award” is presented to a crime victim or survivor, “who has experienced a personal tragedy and triumphed over adversity. The honoree is a person who has utilized his or her experiences as a crime victim or survivor to promote public education and awareness, public policy development, and/or greater awareness about crime victims’ rights and needs.”
Rep. Matsui said:

Laurie has taken leadership and shown strong determination throughout this terrible personal experience. Our office has been very proud to be by her side in this effort to ensure safety on cruise ships by informing the public of their risks.”
Laurie Dishman is truly a hero. She underwent a tragic event and continues to relive her experience as a way to ensure that others will not endure the pain and suffering that she has experienced. From the moment she realized what had happened to her, she has fought with integrity to ensure justice for others.

The award will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 9, 2008. Rep. Matsui nominated Ms. Dishman for the award, having become familiar with her story when Ms. Dishman wrote to Rep. Matsui for assistance.

Ms. Dishman wrote to Rep. Matsui in April 2006 regarding an incident that happened to her on Feb. 21, 2006. Ms. Dishman was raped by a crew member while traveling as a passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. After she reported the incident to the crew authorities, she was handed a trash bag and told to collect her own evidence.
Ms. Dishman’s case was horribly mishandled by the cruise line, and she was provided with no course of action. Upon further investigation, Rep. Matsui discovered that there have been no convictions for rape cases on cruise lines in four decades, prompting her to pursue action in Congress. She started by sending a Congressional inquiry to the FBI regarding the case, and wrote to Royal Caribbean to obtain the information that Ms. Dishman had previously requested.