Alleged Dominican Republic Victim's Dr Phil Segment Leaves Many Unanswered Questions
There have been numerous misleading reports regarding tourist safety in the Dominican Republic in recent months, with many focusing on "mysterious deaths" that were undoubtedly tragic but unproven in terms of being nefarious.
Last Friday, CBS' "Dr. Phil" brought a troubling yet patchy story involving the DR back into the spotlight. Tammy Lawrence-Daley, 51, of Wilmington, Delaware, has been in the news for several months after claiming she was beaten unconscious and strangled in a maintenance closet at the Majestic Elegance Punta Cana in January.
But there are many more questions than answers in this case. And Friday's episode failed to clear things up.
In June, the Majestic Elegance Punta Cana said Lawrence-Daley demanded more than $2 million in compensation before ultimately going public with her story in a now-viral social media post published on May 29, four months after the alleged attack. She is currently suing for $3 million to compensate for "permanent, life-changing injuries," according to the Delaware News Journal.
The resort also stated that a U.S. Embassy staffer visited Lawrence-Daley to outline the Dominican Republic's legal system but said she "refused to present any legal accusations despite the recommendation of the local authorities."
The Dr. Phil episode is problematic from the jump in that it opens by cutting away to the same aforementioned sensationalized media reports hinting at "mysterious deaths" in the DR, which is no doubt designed to entice viewers.
Given the plethora of question marks in the case that can't be ignored, Dr. Phil eventually asks Lawrence-Daley if her story was a scam to which she recounts the details of the attack and denies any falsehoods in her story.
Dr. Phil then recaps some key statements made from police and tourism officials in the Dominican Republic in wake of her public claims pointing to inconsistencies in Lawrence-Daley's story, including the fact that she and her husband never filed a police report.
Lawrence-Daley denies that she never filed a complaint when asked by Dr. Phil. Interestingly, a nearly four-minute clip posted to Dr. Phil's YouTube channel ends at that exact moment, leaving viewers to speculate based on Lawrence-Daley's claims and little else.
She did claim for the first time that there is a witness who can corroborate her attack but the next hearing in Lawrence-Daley's case is scheduled for late October.
The Majestic Elegance Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic temporarily closed last month, citing "thousands of cancellations" following negative media reports. The resort plans to reopen on November 7.
As of September 24, the U.S. State Department has yet to issue an updated travel advisory for the Dominican Republic. The country remains at a Level 2 (exercise increased caution) as of April 15. That puts it on par with places like France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico and the U.K.
The State Department advises that "violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the DR," but adds that the "development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas."
There's a lot we still don't know about this case, but if one thing is certain, it's that Friday's Dr. Phil episode failed to ask and subsequently answer the hard questions.
Instances like this that fail to provide real facts and evidence only further hurt a destination's image in the eyes of the public.