Canada: Winnipeg HIV exposure/transmission trial halted

Charges dropped/acquittal

Sex-assault trial of HIV-positive man stalls

November 22, 2007
Source: CBC News

The case of a Winnipeg man accused of failing to divulge his HIV-positive status before engaging in unprotected sex with several women has hit a potentially lengthy roadblock.

The 35-year-old man, who cannot be named under a court order to protect the identities of his alleged victims, has been charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault.

The Crown had closed its case Wednesday, after the court heard from three women — one of whom is now HIV positive — who testified the accused lied about or hid his HIV-positive status from them.

Defence lawyer Sarah Innis was considering calling the defendant as a witness, but raised concerns about the nature of questions he could face in cross-examination about conversations he had with public health nurses.

The court expects hearings on the matter to take at least three days. Finding time for the judge and both sides to appear in court for the hearings appears to be a problem.

Innis may seek an interim release for the accused man, who has been in pre-trial custody for nearly two years, while the court system tries to settle on a date for the hearings.

Editorial comment

Canadian media reported on the trial of an HIV-positive man accused of aggravated sexual assault following complaints from three women that he did not disclose his HIV status to them before sex: one woman claims to have been infected by the man. At the end of prosecution’s case, however, the trial was halted after it was alleged that public health nurses acted inappropriately in the handling of his case.