MILLEDGEVILLE — A unique and equally dangerous March 4 arrest for a little known reckless conduct by HIV infected persons charge ended with the male culprit sentenced to serious time.
Robert Wayne Stevenson pleaded on four counts of felony reckless conduct in Baldwin County Court Tuesday, according to Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Chief Assistant District Attorney Stephen Bradley.
“The court heard (Stevenson) had sexual contact with individuals without notifying them of his status,” Bradley said. “This is awfully complicated in the number of individuals who were involved and the way they came in contact with Mr. Stevenson. There are four counts we can prove, and that’s what he pled guilty to.”
The court levied a 20-year sentence with Stevenson spending seven in prison.
Additional parameters established include that the defendant must register as a sex offender for the entirety of this sentence, according to Bradley.
“This isn’t necessarily required by this statute, but we felt like that was important based on the reckless behavior Stevenson exhibited,” the assistant DA said.
When the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Stevenson, 21 years old at the time, Sheriff Bill Massee said it was the first time the BCSO has ever arrested someone under these circumstances.
Massee and his personnel spent a lot of time on this unique case.
Bradley said the judge took a long look at the lengthy investigation.
“I believe the words the judge used were that he was disgusted by the facts,” Bradley said. “I think that speaks for everybody. We hope this cautions people to be really careful about this, and if folks are in fact suffering from an HIV infection, they are going to have to be honestly candid with their partners.”
Authorities tuned into Stevenson’s dangerous acts when a victim came to the BCSO and reported that the young male had sex with her and gave her HIV while not disclosing he was an infected person. Lack of disclosure makes the act criminal.
Additional legal elements include being HIV infected, knowledge one has the disease and engaging in sexual acts.
This was the first prosecution of its kind in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District since this particular charge was added to the state law section in 1988.
District Attorney Fred Bright said in March 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.
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