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February 19, 2010

HIV-Positive Ottawa Man Faces Three Years for Not Disclosing

Justin Bruneau, an HIV-positive Native American man, could be sentenced to three years in prison for repeatedly having unprotected sex without disclosing his status, the Ottawa Citizen reports. Bruneau pleaded guilty to aggravated assault charges and will be sentenced February 23.

According to the article, Bruneau allegedly had unprotected sex with his female partner 80 times during their four-month relationship, which ended last July. She has since tested HIV negative.

Prosecutor Andrea Blakeley said the non-disclosure was intentional. “The question was asked, ‘Are there any STDs I need to be aware of?’ and the answer was, ‘No,’ she said during a February 18 court hearing."

Bruneau’s lawyer, Brett McGarry, argued his client’s sentence should be limited to 12- to 18-months, citing Bruneau’s struggles with anti-Native American discrimination, alcohol and drug addiction, his HIV-positive status and gender identity issues (he sometimes goes by the name Jasmine). In addition, Bruneau’s lawyer urged that the sentence should be rehabilitative, explaining that “a longer sentence may be culturally inappropriate and detrimental to his rehabilitation.”

In court, Bruneau, who is a member of the Ojibwa Native Americans, apologized to his former partner, who was not named.

“I cannot begin to express the remorse I feel,” he said. “I placed you at great risk, endangering your life. I was wrong. It was dishonest of me to omit the truth. I was reckless, neglectful and selfish.”

Search: Ottawa, HIV-positive, unprotected sex, prison, disclosure, Native American, discrimination, addiction, transgender

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