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Channel 7 reporting of Toledo doctor’s sexual assault may have caused more harm to victim, Human Development Minister charges

dr desmond arzu

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2023. 10:20 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: She allegedly contacted Channel 7 News with the full details of the harm she suffered at the hands of Toledo-based radiologist Desmond Arzu, accused of sexually assaulting her during a routine procedure earlier this year.

But according to Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Human Development, “grave” damage has been done to the victim by how the story was reported by Channel 7 News last week.

In a back-and-forth exchange with reporter Cherisse Halsall today, the Minister decried the “sensational” “tabloid” reporting done by Channel 7, arguing it caused more harm than good: “The public has a right to know and so the journalists have a duty to tell, but there are limits to freedom of expression and there are limits to how you report things. I can tell you, please – I may be stepping a little over a little line here – but I can tell you that the damage that has been done, and we are well aware of this, and the special envoy herself can tell you the damage that has been done because of that particular report is grave because what it does it further victimizes and re-victimizes the person who suffered the injustice. The young lady is suffering and doesn’t even want to come out of her house.”

It appears the victim spoke with Special Envoy Rossana Briceño detailing her ordeal since the story came out. The Minister later clarified the limits she spoke of as acting in the greater public good and upholding the individual right to privacy, and reminded that one’s freedoms intersect as a matter of course with others’ rights.

Additionally, the Minister flatly denied suggestions that authorities failed to act fast enough as reported by Channel 7: “There was no inaction on the part of authorities. Not everything I do to help women and I have advocated for women for forty years, not everything that I do I have to go and talk it out there. I acted immediately on getting that report even though I never received a hard copy of that particular letter. Immediately I got that report, I acted; that’s speaking for myself now. As far as the Ministry of Health is concerned, I believe that they put the matter to the public service commission and also to the medical council. But this young lady I can report to you faithfully is suffering a lot because of the way that story was presented, the detail that it went into and the twisting, the journalistic twisting for sensationalism and tabloid journalism that is unacceptable in Belize today.”

The Minister mentioned the Belize Broadcasting Authority (BBA), which governs radio and television stations, being disapproving of Channel 7’s behaviour, but there was no mention of sanctions or other discipline.


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