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HIV-Positive NFLD Man Convicted of Aggravated Assault
Acquitted of more serious charges due to testing and timing issues

A St. John's man was found guilty yesterday of aggravated assault in a case where a woman with whom he had been having unprotected sex later tested positive for HIV.  The man knew of his 'positive' status at the time.

Newfoundland Supreme Court Justice Malcolm Rowe told Harold Williams, 39, that his failure to disclose the fact that he was HIV-positive while having unprotected sex amounted to aggravated assault and common nuisance.

Williams had engaged in a sexual relationship with the complainant from June 1991 until November 1992.  He tested positive for HIV in November 1991.  He reportedly encouraged his partner to also become tested but it is unknown whether she did.

Williams received counseling and warnings about transmission at the time of testing positive.  He did not disclose his status to his partner.

In 1994 the complainant tested positive.

Williams acknowledged he had been the source of her infection.

The defense argued that the Crown had to prove Williams' partner was not infected at the time of having unprotected sex with him when he knew he was positive.

But Justice Rowe said to do so would lead to a perverse result and "turn the meaning of aggravated assault on its head."  The judge found Williams guilty because in his position he had endangered the life of the complainant.

In also finding Williams guilty of common nuisance the judge said "Anyone who engages in unprotected sex, knowing they are HIV-positive, and not disclosing this, endangers not only their sexual partner but every person with whom that partner subsequently has unprotected sex.  That constitutes a threat to public health."

The attempt by the Crown to have Williams also convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm failed.

The judge said that in order to prove bodily harm the Crown had to prove that the complainant was not infected before Williams became aware that he was positive.  Crown prosecutor Rachel Huntsman conceded that she couldn't prove that the woman was negative at the time of having unprotected sex with Williams when he knew he was positive.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 11th.