Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Charges Dropped Against Iowa Man in "Criminal HIV Transmission" Case

I wrote last year about Iowa's criminal HIV transmission law. At the center of this law was an otherwise healthy HIV-positive man named Nick Rhoades whose medication compliance and healthy lifestyle made his viral load medically undetectable. He had sex -- wearing a condom -- with another man, but didn't tell that man that he is HIV-positive. The man later found out and reported Rhoades to the police. Despite the fact that they practiced safer sex and that his sex partner did not acquire the disease, Rhoades was convicted of "criminal transmission" of HIV and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His felony conviction was eventually reduced to time served, but Rhoades remained on Iowa's sex offender registry.

Then earlier this spring, Iowa's legislature updated our criminal HIV transmission law to make it less draconian. As a result of this revised law, Rhoades would be removed from Iowa's sex offender registry effective July 1, 2014. A few weeks later, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned Rhoades' felony conviction of criminal transmission of HIV and sent the case back to the Black Hawk County District Court to reconsider their approach to his case.

Yesterday, the Black Hawk County Attorney office finally decided to drop HIV criminal transmission charges against Rhoades, decided that they don't have a criminal case anymore!:
Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney Linda Fangman filed a motion to dismiss the case on Tuesday, online court records show. The motion cites the Supreme Court's ruling and the amount of time that has passed since the original charges were filed in 2008...

Rhoades' attorneys had said it was his hope the case would be dropped. "We can safely say he will not be a felon, he will not be a sex offender, and he can sleep soundly knowing that," said Joseph Glazebrook of Des Moines, one of the team of attorneys representing Rhoades in his appeal.
Assuming that the Black Hawk County courts approve this dismissal, Rhoades will finally be free.

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