Michael Johnson, who was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison for transmitting HIV to a male partner and exposing others to the virus, has been granted parole, reports BuzzFeed News. However, he will not leave the Missouri correctional facility until October 9, 2019.
Johnson was arrested in 2013, when he was a college wrestler in St. Charles, Missouri. His trial made for salacious headlines across the globe, but it also raised issues of racism, homophobia and HIV disclosure and criminalization. BuzzFeed’s Steven Thrasher covered the story’s many nuances extensively.
An appeals court had thrown out Johnson’s original conviction because of prosecutorial misconduct. He then entered a plea deal in September 2017 that resulted in a 10 year sentence for not disclosing his HIV status to sex partners.
When Johnson is released, he will stay with a friend in Indiana; parole officers will supervise him until 2023, BuzzFeed reports.
When Johnson’s criminal trial began in 2015, more than 100 Black gay men signed an open letter to express their support. It was published in POZ here.
In related news, California modernized its HIV crime laws, effective this year. Notably, it is now a misdemeanor instead of a felony to knowingly expose or infect a partner with HIV without disclosing.