A jury in a Hennepin County court has found the first person guilty under a 16-year-old statute that seems to criminalize knowingly transferring HIV to a sexual partner. While the jury believed the 30-year-old Minneapolis man when he said that he had informed his partner that he was HIV positive, the jury used a section of the law that makes it a crime to use the “transfer of…sperm” to infect someone with the disease. The man is expected to appeal the sexual assault conviction and argue that the statute is unconstitutionally vague.
The prosecutor had asked the judge to sentence the man to four years in prison for the attempted first-degree assault conviction. The judge, however, stayed the four-year sentence and sentenced him to probation. The judge also agreed to withhold the man’s six-month sentence to a Hennepin County workhouse until the end of his appeal. According to the suspect, the statute under which he was convicted was meant to apply only in regard to medical procedures.
According to the Star Tribune, the prosecutor sought an assault charge, but since there was no evidence that the man had given anyone HIV, he could only be convicted of attempted assault.
The police say that the 30-year-old had met another man at a bar after they had previously talked online. When the two returned to the suspect’s home, the police claim they had unprotected sex. Later, the second man tested positive for HIV.
A person’s HIV status is extremely private, but unfortunately for this man, everyone in Minnesota will know he is HIV positive. Even though he may eventually win his appeal and have the sexual assault conviction dropped, there is no way to reverse any damage resulting from his HIV disclosure.
Source: Star Tribune, “Probation set in Hennepin County HIV case,” Abby Simons, Nov. 28, 2011