Washington Times (01.25.2014)
The Washington Times reported that Iowa’s Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from a 39-year-old HIV-positive man who received a 25-year prison sentence for a single sexual encounter with another man in 2008. The 1998 Iowa law on which the conviction hinged made it a felony for an HIV-positive person to expose another person intentionally to a bodily fluid “in a manner that could result in the transmission of HIV,” whether or not the other person acquired HIV from the intimate contact.
The petitioner had one sexual encounter with a man he met online, at the man’s home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. After the man learned the petitioner had HIV, he contacted police and filed charges against the petitioner. The petitioner pleaded guilty to a “felony count of criminally transmitting HIV,” even though his accuser has tested negative for HIV.
Due to public outcry over the long sentence, the judge reduced the petitioner’s sentence to time served (18 months), but required the petitioner to be on probation and register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Stating that he used a condom during the encounter, and that his defense attorney did not “fully understand the law” and should not have recommended he plead guilty, the petitioner appealed his conviction. The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the original conviction in October 2013.