Iowa Appeals Court Upholds Harsh Conviction Of Man Who Didn't Disclose His HIV Status Ahead Of Safe Sex
Nick Rhoades was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2008 for not telling a casual sex partner that he had met online that he is HIV+. His viral load was undetectable, the pair engaged in safe sex and Nick did not transmit HIV to his partner, yet he still suffered a fate only reserved for the most hardened of violent criminals. In the months after, his sentence was reduced to five years of probation and life on a sex offenders registry. Lambda Legal recently got behind Nick and took his case to the Iowa Appeals Court, where things didn't go as hoped this week.
“We’re extremely disappointed that the Iowa Court of Appeals is allowing Mr. Rhoades’s conviction to stand because it was based on a misinterpretation of the plain language of the statute,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “Someone who engages in safe sex, as Nick did, does not have the intent required to support a conviction under Iowa’s law concerning the criminal transmission of HIV. Lambda Legal will assist Nick in evaluating his current options, which include a request that the Iowa Supreme Court hear this case.”
“This decision is another example of how our outdated perceptions of and misunderstandings about HIV are still driving public policy, leading to horrifying criminal penalties for the person living with HIV, even in situations where no harm was intended or actually occurred,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director for Lambda Legal. “Nick Rhoades’s story and the extreme sentence imposed in this case illustrate why we must reform HIV criminalization laws in Iowa and around the country.”
What do you think about the court's decision to uphold Nick's conviction and keep him listed as one of the most serious sex offenders in the database?