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Nov 3, 2016

G.S.U. Senior Personnel Demand Apology Over Alleged Sexual Harassment Allegations

The issue of sexual harassment within the workplace isn’t new to the Belize Police Department.  With several hundred officers within its ranks, cases of unsolicited advances among officers have been reported on various occasions. Tonight, there are allegations of unwanted sex-related behavior against a pair of men attached to the Gang Suppression Unit.  The GSU is a highly trained, specialized team in law enforcement and while its members have caught flak for unnecessary use of force, allegations of a sexual nature are beginning to pop up. News Five has obtained a copy of a letter written by attorney Leeroy Banner from the law firm of M H Chebat and Company, on behalf of two GSU sergeants.  Both men are accused of sexually harassing two female colleagues; and according to their attorney, the allegation is damaging the reputation of the officers.  The document forwarded to Commissioner of Police Allen Whylie demands that the accusers cease and desist from spreading such “highly defamatory statements because of the offensive nature.”  The accused officers are also calling for an apology, as well as a refrain from any further undertaking.  This afternoon, News Five spoke with C.E.O. George Lovell, who says he is aware of the situation brought to the attention of the Ministry of Home Affairs by Ombudsman Lionel Arzu.

 

On the phone: Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of Home Affairs

“On the first of November, which was Tuesday, I had the privilege of sitting in a meeting with the Ombudsman and with the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Home Affairs, the Honorable Elodio Aragon.  At that meeting the Ombudsman announced a number of other issues.  He discussed the matter of sexual harassment and complaints that two GSU WPC made against a senior member of that unit.  We had that discussion and what was handed to us was two things: a report that Renee Trujillo apparently did the day before on the thirty-first of October where there was, I believe, a newscast entitled Senior Officers in the GSU Make Claim of Sexual Harassment that she aired on Love News.  And the second thing was statements that were made by two individuals.  I’m not going to call the names of the individuals because I don’t want to have their names out there.  These are the victims, and saying that he, the Ombudsman, was making representation on their behalf and was asking for us to inquire into the matter and to address it.  I can tell you that there is also a letter which I saw from the Ombudsman that was dated the twenty-fifth of October and that letter speaks to the same matter.  And when I saw that letter, as the C.E.O. in the ministry responsible for police, I have directed the Commissioner of Police to look into it and to provide me with a copy of all relevant support along with his comments upon completion.  I do know that the Professional Standards Branch of the police department was tapped by the commissioner and this was confirmed when the Ombudsman, along with the minister and myself met and after the Ombudsman left I called the commissioner to find out where he was with this and to let him know that I have in front of me additional information that the Ombudsman had left for me and he stated to me then that he was on the verge of having the PSB completing their report and have his report to me on the matter.  I believe that the report is on his desk and sometime next week I can expect to get his comment as to how we will proceed with that particular investigation.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now C.E.O., to your knowledge, is this the first such complaint coming out of the Gang Suppression Unit?”

 

On the Phone: Ret. Col. George Lovell

“Isani, this is the first that reaches my office in an official capacity, but I can tell you, just listening to what Renee Trujillo said, she is saying that this appears to be something that has been occurring over a year ago.  The report that I got also from the Ombudsman is suggesting that this is something that may have, from the witness statement, you know, and from the complainant’s statement that this may have been something that has been going on for some time now.  This is the first time they’re having this kind of [incident] reported with the statement and the claim coming from anyone coming to our ministry on the GSU.  I need to emphasize on the GSU because you have had other areas of the police department.”

 

In the case of the two accused officers, legal remedies will be sought should the female officers persist with the allegations.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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