Thursday, February 26, 2004

HIV assault conviction leads to sex predator designation

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A man convicted of assault for having sex with a woman after failing to tell her he was HIV positive has had at least eight other sexual partners since his 1997 diagnosis, court officials said Wednesday.

Saying that pattern indicated he was likely to reoffend, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Helmick designated Sean Stewart a sexual predator. Helmick also ordered Stewart to spend two years in prison.

"You have totally disregarded, if not legal, the moral obligation to inform your partners you are HIV positive," Helmick said.

Convicts deemed sexual predators are required to register with the sheriff's office in the county where they live at least five times each year for the rest of their lives.

The woman has not tested positive for HIV, according to court records. Stewart, 34, of Mount Auburn, was charged with felonious assault in October 2003 and convicted last month. Ohio is one of 24 states that make it illegal to knowingly expose someone to HIV.

Stewart and the woman had known each other several months when she discovered prescribed medication in his bathroom after a sexual encounter. The woman confronted Stewart. He admitted he had the virus, prosecutors said.

Stewart's attorney, Robert Hart Jr., told the judge his client tested positive for the virus three years before the notification law was enacted and did not realize he had to tell his partners he was HIV positive.


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