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Minnesota Supreme Court Overturns Conviction Of Man Accused Of Spreading HIV

The Minnesota Supreme Court shot down a prosecutor's effort to reinstate the overturned conviction of Daniel James Rick, an HIV-positive man who was accused of passing the disease to someone else. 

The Associated Press reports:

The high court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision that reversed the attempted first-degree assault conviction of Daniel James Rick, 32, of Minneapolis, who learned he was HIV positive in 2006. He had consensual sex several times starting in early 2009 with a man identified in court papers as D.B., who tested positive that October.

A jury acquitted Rick in 2011 under the first part of a Minnesota statute that applies to cases involving sex without first informing the other person that the defendant has a communicable disease. But it convicted him under another section that the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday applies only "to the donation or exchange for value of blood, sperm, organs, or tissue and therefore does not apply to acts of sexual conduct."

Although D.B. testified that Rick did not tell him he was HIV positive before they started having sex, the jury agreed with Rick's claim that he did. It was never conclusively determined whether it was Rick or someone else who infected D.B.

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota welcomed the ruling.

"The court saw the problem with the way in which the state was prosecuting this case and recognized it was inappropriate to prosecute this man for this conduct," said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project director for Lambda Legal. "And I think the victory shows that there's a problem with these laws, and that people with HIV are going to be targeted for prosecutions like this until we reform the laws. Essentially, what the state was going was prosecuting someone for the fact he was HIV positive and had sex without a condom."

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What do you think of the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision, Instincters? Was Rick's conviction rightfully overturned?

Check out this piece from Instinct contributor Tyler Curry, "HIV Victims and Villains: Who Is Really At Fault?" for related discussion on the topic!

 

Comments

I have a very hard time with folks who do not reveal their HIV-positive status to any potential sex partner, whether it be male/male, female/female or male/female sex. I always self-disclose with any man who I may decide to have a sexual encounter with, PERIOD! It's a matter of conscience for me as I couldn't live with myself even just thinking I may have exposed someone to this disease. It's worked quite well for me over the last twenty-three years of knowing I am positive and I see no reason to change that now! I guess some people have a lower degree of self-respect or personal honesty than me, but I am going to continue self-disclosing with any fellow who piques my sexual interest. It's just that important to me and my partners.

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