MILLEDGEVILLE — A unique and equally dangerous March 4 arrest serves as a local warning.
The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Robert Wayne Stevenson, 21, last week for a little known reckless conduct by HIV infected persons charge. Sheriff Bill Massee said this is the first time the BCSO has ever arrested someone under these circumstances.
“A victim came to us and reported that (Stevenson) had sex with her and gave her HIV while not disclosing that he was an infected person,” Massee said. “That’s one of the elements of the law that makes it a crime.”
Additional elements include being HIV infected, knowledge one has the disease and engaging in sexual acts.
Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright has never prosecuted this particular charge added to the state law section in 1988.
Bright said the law puts a duty on HIV infected individuals aware of their disease.
“You have to disclose it prior to having sex. The purpose of that is to give the victim a chance to make an informed decision. If he disclosed and they still willingly had sex, it’s not a crime,” Bright said.
Massee suspects others to come forward. Communications with Laurens County authorities could bring more charges.
“We don’t know what’s going to come of this,” the sheriff said.
Stevenson is being held at the Baldwin County jail with no bond. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
According to county authorities, there have been rumors and innuendo about similar situations. Having a true witness brings the problem to the forefront.
“We look at it as not only a violation of state law but as a terrible public health issue. At this point we have interviewed some individuals that have been associated with our defendant that we know have had sex with other people,” Massee said. “This is a wake up call for people to understand this is still a health crisis and still in our community.”
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