Woman who hid HIV infection from partner faces jail
An HIV-positive woman in Quebec may face jail time after she was found guilty of sexually assaulting her boyfriend, who didn’t know she was infected when they started dating.
The boyfriend, who was found guilty of domestic abuse against the woman and her 18-year-old son this winter, pressed charges against his former lover after she alerted police about violence in their home.
The tangled case of domestic abuse has raised the ire of HIV activists in Montreal, who say the province’s court system could damage efforts to raise public awareness about the disease, and also belittle the dangers of family violence, if the woman is sentenced to jail.
Activists protested outside the Longueuil courthouse on Montreal’s South Shore this week, where sentencing arguments in the woman’s case wrapped up and the Crown laid out its request for prison time.
“Is the message of the Crown that having HIV and not disclosing it is criminal, but physical violence is not criminal?” asked Ken Monteith, director of AIDS Community Care in Montreal.
“I’m shocked by that, and the whole of our society should be shocked by that.”
The Crown is arguing HIV infections require disclosure. “When you have HIV, you have to tell it to your partner,” said prosecutor Caroline Fontaine. “He has a right to know it before.”
Man knew of HIV for years before complaint: lawyer
The woman’s lawyer said the charges against his client were objectionable in the first place.
“He rushed to the police to complain about the situation which he was not complaining about for the last five years, so there’s kind of bad taste there,” said Montreal attorney Pierre Desrosiers.
He is seeking a suspended sentence.
A court-ordered publication ban that prevents the man and woman from being named requires they be identified only by their initials.
D.C., 49, said she met J.L.P. about eight or nine years ago, and they became a couple in 2000 and started having sex.
She did not tell him about her HIV status, and the court determined they engaged in unprotected sex on at least one occasion, even though D.C. insisted she used condoms from the start of the relationship.
When D.C. revealed her infection, she said, J.L.P. accepted it and they pursued their relationship, which lasted five years. He was never infected with the virus.
The relationship deteriorated, however, and J.L.P. was arrested on various assault charges after he attacked D.C. and her son in their home.
That’s when J.L.P. went to police with his allegations about his girlfriend and her hidden HIV status.
He was eventually given an unconditional discharge with no criminal record.
D.C. will return to court on July 8 for sentencing.
She has been HIV-positive since 1991, when she contracted the virus from her ex-husband.
If ever there were a case to show how HIV exposure laws can potentially criminalise all HIV-positive people, then this extremely disturbing story from Montreal is it.
The story has made national headlines (the article below is from the CBC – Canada’s equivalent of the BBC) and for good reason.
A 49 year-old HIV-positive woman who went to the police last year to report that (now ex) partner had been violent against her and her 18 year-old son, has now been found guilty of criminal HIV exposure after the partner subsequently complained to the police that she had not disclosed her HIV status until about two years into their seven year relationship.
According to the CBC, “the court determined they engaged in unprotected sex on at least one occasion,” even though she insisted that condoms were used from the start of the relationship.
How on earth can she be held responsible for the man not using condoms?
Not only that, but when she disclosed that she was HIV-positive, her partner “accepted it and they pursued their relationship, which lasted five years. He was never infected with the virus.”
The final kick in the teeth, however, is that the ex-partner “was eventually given an unconditional discharge with no criminal record” for his domestic violence charge.
HIV activists have been demonstrating outside the courtroom, and the well-balanced CBC story includes this quote: