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Dallas Morning News

HIV con man's victims not to blame


Philippe Padieu certainly had a way with the ladies.

Handsome, charming, suave and European, he must have been a thrillingly exotic change from the buttoned-down actuaries and divorced soccer dads prowling the suburban chain bars in Addison and Collin County.

Perhaps his numerous girlfriends harbor some regret for their failure to recognize him as a manipulative sex addict, a narcissistic con artist on the make. Maybe they were a little naive.

What they could not know, and what he actually lied to many of them about, was that he was not, as he earnestly assured them, "clean." He was HIV-positive, and he knew it.

Well, the party's over now. He was sentenced Friday to 45 years in prison for aggravated assault for having unprotected sex with six women without telling them he was infected.

There could be a lot more victims out there � bad enough to disclose publicly that you have been hoodwinked by a compulsive sexual glutton, much less that you have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.

I can only hope that if there are former partners who have not come forward, they have at least gotten themselves tested, and governed their conduct accordingly.

It's fitting, in a way, that a man who lied so easily and exploited people so casually ended his trial with a bizarre, ill-advised rant that probably turned the jury against him as much as anything else.

No longer the muscle-bound playboy with a waving resemblance to Jimmy Smits that he presented at the time of his arrest, Padieu looked the part of a reckless criminal in the courtroom this week, scowling and gaunt with a whacked-out George Washington hairdo.

Ignoring his own exasperated lawyers' advice, he took the stand to blame anybody, everybody � the judge, the prosecutors and the complainants, whom he tried to paint as a "hate group" of vengeful harpies.

"These women are in a very dark, sinister place," he huffed self-righteously. "This is something they perpetrated on me to deny their own responsibility."

You could dismiss this with an angry snort of laughter were there not people out there who seem to agree with this jerk that the victims are somehow "responsible" for their involuntary exposure to terminal illness and premature death.

"You should take into consideration that everybody may have some kind of STD before you sleep with them," wrote one smug commenter to our trial-verdict story.

"Women were perfectly willing to have unprotected sex with this party boy," wrote another. "No sympathy here."

Well, this is akin to saying that if an elderly person gets swindled out of his life savings, or if a college girl gets raped after passing out drunk at a party, they had it coming because they just weren't mistrustful enough.

Yes, maybe they could have been more prudent. They could have been warier, less vulnerable, less readily taken advantage of.

But that's what predators do. They seek trusting people who are willing to believe them: I'll double your money. I'll make sure you get home OK. I'm clean, I swear � I'm hurt that you could even ask.

The reason Philippe Padieu is responsible and his victims aren't is that he knew what they risked in having sex with them, and they didn't. He blatantly assaulted them as surely as if he had fired a gun into a crowd.

He had the obligation to disclose, to tell the truth, to use protection, to give his partners the opportunity to make an informed decision. He, not they, knew the enormous risk they were exposed to.

A number of readers have posted the annoying comment: "It takes two to tango."

But this wasn't dancing � it was assault. And it only takes one person to pull the trigger.


Copyright © 2009 to The Dallas Morning News. All articles are republished on AEGiS with permission of The Dallas Morning News. You need permission from the Dallas Morning News to make more than one copy of any article in this section.

Information in this article was accurate in May 30, 2009. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.