Dominican Republic Officials Cast Doubt on American Woman’s Story of Brutal Assault

By Zachary Stieber

Officials in the Dominican Republic have responded after an American woman told a story of being brutally assaulted while on vacation in the country in January, including posting graphic pictures that show her in the hospital, indicating that she may be lying about some parts of the story.

Tammy Lawrence-Daley, 51, a Delaware resident, said in late May that she went to get a snack at the Majestic Elegance Punta Cana at night and was grabbed from behind and shoved into a maintenance room, triggering an eight-hour ordeal during which she was beaten and possibly raped before being left for dead.

“The next 8 hours brought me pain and fear. I was strangled multiple times to unconsciousness,” she wrote in a Facebook post that went viral. “My lifeless body was [dragged] down concrete stairs to an underground wastewater area. I was kicked in the head, I was beaten with a club. And then strangled again for the kill.”

Her husband, Christopher Daley, corroborated parts of the story. He said he and their friends were frantically searching for the missing woman before finally finding her early the next morning.

In response to the story, Majestic Resorts called what happened a “regrettable event,” adding, “We have treated Mrs. Lawrence-Daley’s situation with due diligence and attention.” The short statement didn’t shed much light on the situation, with the resort saying it couldn’t comment further “out of respect” for the woman’s “dignity and integrity.”

But in a fresh statement on June 5, the resort said that Lawrence-Daley, “who is a professional in the insurance industry in the United States, formally demanded a $2.2 million compensation agreement.”

It was only after the demand received no positive response that she went public, the resort said.

“The authorities investigating the case understand the scenario is still unclear, and that there are weak points, contradictions on the information offered, and that there are still unanswered questions in this strange and unusual case,” the resort added. The hypothesis of some authorities is that Lawrence-Daley’s story “presents contradictions and confusing facts, casting doubts on her testimony.”

Punta Cana Tourism Police spokesman Ramón Brito told NBC 10 that during interviews authorities noted “incongruencies” and “discrepancies” in what Lawrence-Daley said.

Her husband responded by calling the assertions “crazy” since he was there and interviewed at the same time as his wife.

While the Dominican Republic Attorney General’s Office said the Delaware woman chose not to file a formal complaint, Christopher Daley said he and his wife filed a complaint at a courthouse in the city of Higuey before leaving for the United States. They haven’t been able to obtain a copy since they started asking in February, he added.

Further, Lawrence-Daley wrote on Facebook that police failed to follow up on clues they found.

“Police did find evidence of the blood smeared mop handle and a maintenance hat in the area I was found, but this means nothing in these countries,” she wrote.

The Dominican Republic Attorney General’s Office said that claim wasn’t true.

Office spokeswoman Julieta Tejada also said that doctors used a rape kit and found that Lawrence-Daley had not been sexually assaulted. Lawrence-Daley said she was not sure she was sexually assaulted because she was slipping in and out of consciousness due to how badly she was beaten, but she told The Associated Press that officials wouldn’t consent to the kit being done for some time.

“We had to force them to do a rape kit and that didn’t happen until 48 hours later. And even at that point, it was an external swab, that was it,” she said.

Police spokesman Col. Frank Durán said that investigators went to the hospital after learning of the reported assault and spoke with Lawrence-Daley before searching for evidence at the place where she said she was assaulted.

“There is a lot of conjecture about the case, a lot of information that doesn’t match some of the statements,” Durán said. “We have to wait for the investigation to end.”

The resort issued a fresh statement on June 5, saying Lawrence-Daley said she was assaulted starting around 11 p.m. but claiming that her husband didn’t report her missing until 2:30 a.m. It said she was found at 6:40 a.m.

“She showed bruises on her face and had broken a fingernail, without presenting any other signs of violence on her body, and still being in possession of her purse, cell phone, and other belongings,” it stated. It said that the woman “refused to present any legal accusations despite the recommendations of the local authorities.”

Lawrence-Daley told The Associated Press that she wanted to go public to try to warn other tourists about the response to crimes in the Caribbean. She also insisted that the man who attacked her was wearing a uniform from the resort.

Lawrence-Daley said she testified in a local court before flying to the United States. The resort’s insurance company said after a three-month probe that the resort didn’t bear responsibility because Lawrence-Daley couldn’t identify who attacked her. She has until July to find a lawyer in the Dominican Republic to represent her in the case.