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Missouri man accused of ‘recklessly infecting’ two with HIV on trial

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Court documents allege that Johnson told two of his sex partners that he was disease-free when asked, but in other cases the at-risk person apparently didn’t inquire. According to a probable cause statement that outlines five of the six charges, Johnson didn’t wear a condom while having either oral or anal sex. Missouri law adopted in 1997 explicitly excludes condom use as a defense.

In a written summary of the case, The Center for HIV Law and Policy in New York asserts that “treating Johnson’s past sex partners … as victims puts the government seal of approval on their avoidance of responsibility for personal decisions about their sex lives.” It adds: “Having unprotected sex is poor judgment, not a criminal act.”

“He certainly did not seduce these people,” said Catherine Hanssens, executive director of The Center for HIV Law and Policy. “He was sought out as a sex partner.”

Hanssens cited other examples of what she called “HIV criminalization,” including the case of an Idaho man sentenced to 15 years in prison for having sex without disclosing his status and an HIV-positive Iowa man who received a 25-year sentence for the same offense.

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The Center for HIV Law and Policy estimates that nearly 200 such cases have been prosecuted since 2008.

Johnson was a 2010 state high school wrestling champion in Indiana. Before Lindenwood University, he wrestled at Lincoln College in Illinois and was a junior college All-American and national champion while there.

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