An Oshawa judge’s decision to sentence a man to house arrest for Internet child luring rather than jail because police publicly revealed his HIV status is the latest example of judges finding creative ways to manoeuvre around mandatory minimum sentences.
Former youth pastor Kris Gowdy was given two years less one day house arrest and three years’ probation last week by Ontario Court Justice Michael Block rather than the mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail. Justice Block found Durham Regional Police violated Mr. Gowdy’s constitutional rights when they indicated in a news release shortly after his arrest in August 2012 that he was HIV-positive.
The story of the “HIV-positive ex-youth pastor” made headlines around the world, causing significant emotional trauma to Mr. Gowdy, Justice Block wrote in his decision.
“Mr. Gowdy had a right to make his own choices concerning the disclosure of his HIV status,” he wrote. “No doubt he would have chosen his own method and different timing if he ever determined to inform those near to him. Absent evidence of serious risk of transmission and rigorous compliance with statute, no one had the authority to make that decision for him.”