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Dallas Morning News
Collin County jury sentences man to 45 years for assault by
Diane Jennings, The Dallas Morning News,
May 30, 2009
McKINNEY�Two years after Philippe Padieu was arrested for infecting them with HIV, and just a few minutes after a Collin County jury sentenced him to prison, probably for the rest of his life, a parade of women took the stand to look the martial arts instructor in the eye and tell him what he did to them.

Some were angry, but they generally seemed sad or simply bewildered by the chain of events that has left them exposed to the deadly disease of AIDS and their former lover behind bars.

"I consider suicide," said one woman who contracted HIV after one encounter with Padieu, "because it would be so much easier. It's a battle every single day."

"If I had cancer, I could tell people," she said. "I could tell them without fear or embarrassment or shame."

"I wish you no harm," she said, "And I pray that I can forgive. And I pray for a cure for us all.'

After being found guilty of six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for having unprotected sex with the women without telling them he was HIV positive, jurors handed Padieu five sentences of 45 years and one 25-year sentence Friday. The sentences will run concurrently.

For victims and jurors, the trial was an emotional experience.

One juror, who asked not to be identified, cried as she hugged a victim. The trial had been helpful to her, she told the woman, because, "I have a daughter that's 19 and I don't tell her a lot of things.

"It just takes one time to destroy your life," she said shaking her head.

Fellow juror Kim Puckett said jurors "had to remove ourselves emotionally" from the wrenching testimony and analyze the law. When they did, he said, it was clear Padieu had committed aggravated assault. Sentencing the Frisco man to 45 years was a compromise, he said, because some jurors wanted more time.

Prosecutors had asked the jury to sentence Padieu to life, while defense attorneys suggested 20 years would be sufficient punishment.

Though jurors gave less than life, assistant district attorney Curtis Howard said he was satisfied with the sentence.

"We got what we wanted," he said. "We don't think he'll ever get the opportunity to infect another woman again. With his age and condition, this is probably a life sentence."

Padieu, 53, will not be eligible for parole for 22 � years.

Padieu's attorney, Bennie House, said the sentence was "better than life," but he didn't call it a victory.

House said he felt Padieu should not have been prosecuted in the first place because, unlike some other states, Texas does not have an "HIV law" specifically criminalizing the intentional spreading of the sexually transmitted disease. Prosecuting Padieu for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon "absolutely opens the door for any STD prosecution," or even diseases such as swine flu, he said.

But prosecutors said the Padieu case involved an unusual set of circumstances and should not set a precedent.

Jury foreman Ethan Francis said jurors didn't debate the issue much and said he didn't feel an HIV law was necessary.

For the women who testified against Padieu � including two from Dallas County as well as the six victims in Collin County � the trial brought a certain measure of closure. But they all agreed one aspect of their experience will never end: the friendships they formed as a result of working together to bring Padieu to trial.

"I still wonder why you did this," said one woman who testified under the name Susan Brown. But, she added, "I'm not going to let it consume me."

She than thanked Padieu for "introducing me to a group of 10 incredibly beautiful, brave women who had the guts to stand up here and tell the world their most embarrassing moments to make sure you were stopped."

"Our friendship will last long after you're gone."