It is the right of every man accused of a criminal offence to protect and defend himself. He may chose to do so by saying something, or he may chose not to say anything.
This right is clearly defined in both British and American systems of jurisprudence. “You have the right to remain silent,” an arresting officer will tell you, then add: “Anything you say may be used in evidence against you.”
Often a defending attorney will advise his client not to say anything to the press. This is not to be taken as a sign of weakness, but part of a defence strategy.
Recently one television station, Channel 7, came across as being critical of Dr. Marco Tulio Mendez because he did not choose to speak to the press after his preliminary court hearing in Orange Walk. Later the citizens’ organization, COLA actually called on Dr. Mendez to make a statement.
Channel 7 was out of line implying that there was something amiss, contrasting Dr. Mendez’s avoidance of the press with Mr. Johnny Briceño’s willingness to meet and greet the press. And COLA, the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, was clearly out of line in calling on Dr. Mendez to make a statement about the charges being laid against him.
Dr. Mendez is not required to answer to the press, and he is certainly not required to answer to COLA. He is however required to answer to the court, which alone has the legal authority to judge him.
It is a serious criminal offence for any person to deliberately touch or fondle, caress or assault any part of a child’s or a woman’s erogenous zones. The law, in its solicitude to protect women and children, prescribes heavy penalties for anyone who crosses the line, and makes it easy for a person so molested to report the matter to the police.
But this very solicitude of the law to protect women and children sometimes encourages mischief-makers to make reckless or false charges. Professional people who are care-givers, especially have to be careful about what they do and what they say in an emotionally-charged atmosphere. Responsible doctors who have to examine women and girls make sure they always have a nurse on hand as a witness to protect themselves from impropriety charges.
It requires a court and a jury and careful deliberation to determine if there is guilt, and to what extent.