Judge Postpones Sentencing for Former Wrestler By Teresa Cajot Sentencing for the former professional wrestler Andre Davis has been postponed once again while the judge takes more time to consider the case. Davis, 29, was convicted in November of 14 counts of felonious assault after having sexual relations with 12 women but failing to inform them of his HIV positive status. Sentencing was initially scheduled for December 21 but was postponed until January 3. That date has now been moved to January 23.
Davis could potentially serve decades in prison for his failure to abide by the Ohio state law that requires those who know they are infected with the HIV virus to reveal that information to potential sexual partners. The case has drawn significant attention from a number of advocacy groups working on behalf of HIV-positive individuals. Currently 34 states have criminal laws in place that penalize those who knowingly expose another person to the HIV-virus. While many argue that these laws promote discrimination against infected individuals, others assert that such laws are necessary to protect the population from irresponsible behavior. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. insists that many of these laws are outdated and only function to criminalize “a population of people who should not be criminalized.” In September she crafted a bill that, if passed, would provide incentives to encourage states to reevaluate their laws based on modern medical developments. A number of the state laws concerning HIV transmission were put in place prior to the discovery of life-saving medication regiments. Furthermore, prosecutions occur even when virus transmission does not occur. Whether any of the women involved became infected with HIV through their contact with Davis was not discussed in the trial. However, as pointed out by Scott Burns, the executive director of the National District Association, there is nobody “who’d want to be infected with HIV and go through the treatment regimen.” For this, and other reasons, most prosecutors will not agree with Lee’s call for reform, which was inspired largely by cases like Davis’.
There have a number of similar cases in Ohio alone in the recent past. According to the state law, those who have tested positive must inform partners of this fact prior to any sex act, regardless of whether safe sex is practiced. And Ohio is not the only state that has been asked to handle such situations. In 2010, a Michigan man who was infected with the HIV virus faced bioterrorism charges after biting a neighbor on the lip during an argument. The charge was later thrown out and the defendant was charged only with assault and sentenced to 11 months of probation. In 2009, a HIV-positive Iowa man was given a 25-year sentence for his failure to inform a sexual partner of his HIV status. The sentence was later dropped but he was forced to register as a sex offender. Similarly, in 2008, an HIV-infected homeless man was sentenced to 35 years in a Texas prison for spitting at a police officer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are no documented cases of HIV being transmitted through saliva, tears, or sweat but according to Texas law, the saliva of a HIVinfected person is regarded as a deadly weapon. While HIV is most commonly transmitted by a HIV-positive individual through unprotected sex, needle sharing, or in the birthing process, a bite that draws blood or breaks the skin can also lead to infection in some instances.
Published on Sep 7, 2012
Sentencing for the former professional wrestler Andre Davis has been postponed once again while the judge takes more time to consider the ca...