A St. Louis jury recommended that Michael Johnson, the HIV-positive former college wrestler from Missouri, serve decades in prison after finding him guilty of failing to inform several partners of his HIV status. The case, which has sparked heated debates about safe sex practices and dishonest intentions, came to a close on Thursday.
Johnson's sentencing hearing is set for July 13.
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The entire trial, which lasted three days, concluded after a two-hour jury deliberation. Present for the trial was Johnson’s mother and one of the victims in question, his former partner Dylan King Lemons, who is HIV-positive. Lemons testified that he went to the police about Johnson after discovering he was on various gay hook-up apps.
Missouri state law requires that all persons with HIV disclose their status to their sexual partners before engaging in sexual acts regardless of contraception usage. Johnson tested positive for the immune deficiency virus in January 2013 with the state of Missouri. However, prosecutors in the case argued that Johnson in fact was aware of his status even earlier after being tested in 2011. Yet defense for Johnson argued that there was no evidence supporting such claims.
Regardless, Johnson was found guilty for his neglect to disclose his status to his six previous partners with the first occurring on Jan. 8, 2013. Johnson’s official charges read as follows: “transmitting HIV to Lemons and to Charles Pfoutz through anal sex (both Class A felonies); one Class B felony for attempting to expose HIV to Montell Moore through anal sex without transmission; and three additional Class B felonies for exposing Christian Green, Filip Cukovic, and Andrew Tryon to HIV.”
(Photo: St. Charles County Department of Corrections via AP Photo)