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May 13, 2009

HIV-Positive Iowa Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

An HIV-positive Iowa man was sentenced May 8 for failing to disclose his status to a male sexual partner to 25 years in prison, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports.

The sentence is the maximum penalty for the class B felony. It was not reported whether a condom was used during the one-time encounter.

According to the article, Nick Clayton Rhoades, 34, pleaded guilty for having consensual sex with a man on June 26. The two met in an Internet chat room, with Rhoades’s partner claiming that he denied having any sexually transmitted infections. Rhoades’s partner has since tested negative for the virus.

“I should have had the right to choose whether to be intimate with someone who is HIV positive,” the unnamed partner said in a statement. “Instead, Nick was manipulative and denied me that right. He lied online, and he also lied to me in person when I asked him directly if he was ‘clean.’”

Rhoades, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1998, says that he does not remember discussing his HIV status with his partner, claiming that a combination of alcohol and prescription pills prior to having sex may have clouded his judgment. Rhoades also was being treated for herpes and genital human papillomavirus (HPV) at the time of the incident, said assistant county attorney Linda Fangman.

The Courier reports that Rhoades was arrested in September. In court, he likened living with HIV to “carrying a concealed weapon.”

“I always wanted to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem,” Rhoades added, having previously participated in HIV/AIDS education efforts. “Clearly, I’ve fallen short in this case.”

In addition to his sentence, Rhoades will register as a sex offender, undergo a sex offender treatment program, will have lifetime parole after his release and must uphold a five-year no-contact order with the partner in addition to other court costs and restitution.

More recent content on criminalization:
Norway’s Export of Stigma By Edwin Cameron
Media Hysteria and HIV Criminalization By Sean Strub
Criminalizing HIV is Criminal By Regan Hofmann
Why I Do What I Do By Regan Hofmann

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  comments 1 - 15 (of 53 total)     next > >>

Donald Baxter, Iowa City, Iowa, 2009-09-12 09:12:43
Nick Rhoades was freed, Friday afternoon--five year's probation. There's every reason to believe that letters in press in his favor have led to this judge reconsideration of his sentence. It's a somehwt happier day for us HIV+ people in Iowa that maybe we have one less judge who uses a law just because he can.

Nick Rhoades, Iowa, 2009-09-12 05:26:58
** CONTINUATION ** ... Also, my P/O will remain in contact with my psychiatrist and my I.D. physician to ensure I am compliant with my meds and appts. The lifetime parole was found to be unlawful and was vacated. I am confident that the numerous letters the judge received supporting me played a role in this ruling. THANK YOU ALL. I have read all comments and respect every point of view -- SINCERELY. Please know the media's coverage left out incidental yet curious details. Best to you all.

chameleon1218, , 2009-07-03 17:07:19
First off, everyone is responsible for protecting themselves. That said - if you are HIV positive, you have a responsibility to disclose that information to your partner or potential partner UP FRONT. Not doing so robs the other person of their right to decide whether or not they want to be intimate with someone who is infected. Whether or not a condom is used is irrelevant because as we all know condoms break. 25 yrs may seem harsh but if he had been honest he wouldn't be behind bars.

qkaelo, Albuquerque, NM, 2009-06-15 09:40:33
I am so sad to see like that. I am infected and don't know that until I found out. I even forgave them and move on. Deal with the virus and learn how to live with it. The law people are really close-minded and likes to abuse the innocent people. There are too many innocent people who are just in the wrong place, and wrong time. I have no tolerance with the law who just like to control over us because of who we are, or what we have. Nasty stuff.

KissMeKate, Pine Bluff, 2009-06-09 10:18:37
I am sorry for Rhoads but face it, he was srong for not disclosing his status. We have people here doing time for the same reason. There are some that do it just for revenge and have gotten by with it. The next perosn may be you, your son, daughter, brother, sister, mother or father. Think about it. Stop and think - protect your self!

Rochy, Austin, 2009-06-08 23:06:16
Poor man he s just carrying a complicated disease and he is treated like a murder. When the other WHORE is not even positive. I wish there was a GOD outhere. One capable of judging Ppl like they judge eachother. and let stuff like this happen.

David, LONG ISLAND, 2009-06-03 20:41:09
James Dean..Philly. Where can we find the information about a political action group. Would the GMHC in NY perhaps have some information? Or maybe an organization in IOWA? There has to be something done about this. I have seen cases in NY that were DWI and killed people with their cars that the court said well they didn't intend to kill anyone. This case is horrible and is probably more prevalent than we know. Any ideas on where we can start? I don't know this guy but I feel bad

got burned, , 2009-06-03 15:24:13
i think that at this point the law need to step in its too many innoscent people getting this virus because someone would not disclose i know we should all protect ourselves but give the other person the choice whether they want to take that risk or if you use the cop out of being scared to disclose well then JUST DONT HAVE SEX,just that simple yes i got caught up like that the guy knew he had it and i ask him over and over again and he lied people like that should be jailed.

SomeWhoCare, Little Rock, 2009-06-03 00:00:40
There are people out there that do this for revenge. What happens if a condom breaks during sex? Who is reliable then? This type of punishment is totally uncalled for and needs to be stopped. This case is a sure sign that HIV is still in the dark ages and many people are closed minded about it. I am sure one time or another a person living with HIV has heard from a HIV specialist that "HIV is no longer a life sentence". Why would it be a prison sentence? This case was a waste of tax payers money

RH, Tucson, 2009-06-02 21:52:14
Anyone dating and having sex with anyone HIV- risks a sad end, since there is a old saying a thin line exists between love and hate, one sees it often in bitter divorces, a love that turned to hate, lies and such for upper hand in divorce issues, imagine disclosing, and a angry ex-lover accusing you of not, and depending on a jury of 12 HIV- people believing you disclosed and they had sex with you anyway, I would not want my freedom on such flimsy grounds exposed and trusted to 12 HIV- people!

RH, Tucson, 2009-06-02 21:48:20
I have long ago saw this as potential in our society, one sees it already years ago in Florida, with many laws on books there, its not going to go away and those foolish enough to date anyone HIV- is a disaster looking for a place to happen, since in some states even if you disclose your status its a felony to infect someone, and imagine trusting your freedom to 12 HIV- jurors that you disclosed, believing that your accusor willingly, knowingly had sex with you anyway, not a good situation

dbeck, Houston, 2009-06-02 12:09:18
unkown, new york - You are absolutely 100% right. Why would anyone trust someone else to protect you?? Protect yourself!

JamesDean, Philadelphia, 2009-06-01 14:35:26
Why isn't there political action taking place to protest this sentencing!! How many of us (HIV Positive men) have had sex with someone and not told them our status. Who is next, which state is next...probation yes, 25 years!! that's monsterous! we should all be losing sleep over this...Jail is a concentration camp.

Peter, , 2009-05-30 05:07:00
Actually, it came out in the courtroom that the HIV+ man wore a condom for insertive anal sex, but then he sucked the "victim's" penis. The reporter was present during the trial at the invitation of the "victim" and published an article that included few facts and much gossip.

Andy H., Hayward, CA, 2009-05-29 15:14:08
Re actions to take, I wrote a long letter to the journalist who wrote the article, discussing the policy issues, and notified the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, but never heard back from either. I think Rhoades was unethical, but the law and sentence are crazy. Under the subject law, if Rhoades hadn't known he was positive, he would have committed NO crime! Ignorance of HIV status is a complete defense to this law. This COMPLETELY DISINCENTIVIZES HIV TESTING, and so leads to the spread of HIV.

comments 1 - 15 (of 53 total)     next > >>


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