DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court is considering whether to uphold the conviction of an Iowa man with HIV who was imprisoned for not telling a partner he carried the virus when they had sex in 2008.
The court heard arguments Monday in the case of Nick Rhoades.
The Iowa Court of Appeals in October concluded he violated Iowa’s HIV transmission law, which makes it a felony for someone carrying the virus to engage in sex without telling a partner about being HIV-positive. Lambda Legal is asking the state’s highest court to review the case.
Rhoades, 39, had a sexual encounter with a man he met in an online chat room in 2008. Rhoades drove from his home in Waverly to the man’s home in Cedar Falls, where he received oral sex without wearing protection but put on a condom before having sex.
Within days, the man learned from a friend that Rhoades had HIV and contacted police. He eventually tested negative for HIV, but he supported Rhoades’ prosecution.
Article continues belowRhoades eventually pleaded guilty to criminally transmitting HIV, a class B felony. A judge sentenced him to the maximum 25 years in prison.
But after an outcry over the sentence, the judge reconsidered and freed Rhoades after roughly 18 months behind bars. Rhoades is on probation and required to register for life as a sex offender.
Rhoades’ attorney Christopher Clark argues Rhoades used a condom and has a low HIV level, which means transmission was nearly impossible.
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Cmelik argues the conviction should be upheld because Rhoades knew he had the virus and had sex in a way that transmission was possible.