US: California judge calls for higher penalty for violating misdemeanour STI health code during sentencing of gay man alleged to have ‘willfully’ infected his former partner with HIV


Man who knowingly spread HIV sentenced to six months. Judge calls it a ‘travesty.’

May 5, 2015
Source: Washington Post

On Monday X, a 30-year-old from San Diego, was sentenced to six months in prison for knowingly spreading the human immunodeficiency virus. He maintained his innocence in court, insisting “I am not a monster” after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor health code violation.

But the judge who sentenced X couldn’t hide her anger over the case, San Diego County’s first.

“I think that’s a tremendous oversight in the law if this is just a misdemeanor,” said Judge Katherine Lewis, calling the light sentence a “travesty” and openly calling for the offense to be changed to a felony.

The case against X began last August, when an ex-boyfriend came forward to police accusing X of infecting him with HIV. The ex claimed that X had told him he was HIV-negative when they began dating in August 2013 after meeting on the gay dating app Grindr, and that X had coaxed him into having unprotected sex.

But then the ex discovered messages on X’s computer admitting to being HIV-positive, according to NBC San Diego. “X even joked in text messages about having HIV and other people not knowing it,” the TV station reported.

In court, prosecutors presented 11,000 text messages and 36 audio clips to support their case against X. But X rejected blame, arguing that his ex had been “reckless.”

“If you are that reckless with your life, how can you blame someone else’s actions?” he said, according to NBC San Diego. X’s attorney took a different tack, however, persuading his client to plead no contest because a jury wouldn’t understand the “dark humor” in X’s texts.

Lewis said she would have liked to have slapped Guerra with a stiffer sentence but was prevented from doing so by statutes. “I don’t think in my 25-plus years in law, I’ve ever seen somebody be so lacking of insight, blame or responsibility that you have demonstrated,” she said.