Frisco arrest puts spotlight on HIV-related criminal statutes

Posted on 26 Jul 2007 at 3:58pm
By John Wright Staff Writer

Padieu facing 1st degree assault charges after allegedly having sex
with 4 women without telling them he is HIV-positive



Philippe Padieu

It’s no surprise that for two consecutive weeks, the media has pounced on stories about people accused of having unprotected sex when they knew they were HIV-positive.

Such cases typically are sensationalized in the news, according to gay rights advocates, and that’s unfortunate.

However, if there’s any consolation, it’s that unlike roughly half of the states in the U.S., Texas does not have a criminal statute related specifically to disclosure of one’s HIV-positive status or transmission of the virus, advocates say.

“We’ve been very much opposed to the HIV-specific laws because we think that just adds to HIV stigmatization,” said Bebe Anderson, HIV project director for Lambda Legal in Washington, D.C. “It promotes an inaccurate and harmful message, that there’s something criminal or dangerous about people with HIV.”

Instead, Anderson said, people who have unprotected sex without disclosing their HIV-positive status and with the intent to transmit the virus should be charged with other crimes.

Philippe Padieu, 51, of Frisco was arrested July 20 at an Addison nightclub after he allegedly had unprotected sex with four women when he knew he was HIV-positive. Padieu is facing first-degree aggravated assault charges and is being held on $200,000 bail.

Padieu’s arrest came a week after that of Pfc. Johnny Lamar Dalton, an HIV-positive soldier who was arrested in North Carolina for allegedly failing to disclose his status to a sexual partner. Dalton was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, committing a crime against nature and assault inflicting serious injury. North Carolina law also prohibits a person infected with HIV from having sex unless condoms are used and requires that sexual partners be notified, according to the Associated Press.

But Anderson and others note there are is little evidence showing such HIV-specific laws are a deterrent.

Very few people with HIV intentionally try to infect others, Anderson said, and many of the laws are vaguely written.

Moreover, the laws could actually prompt people to avoid being tested so they won’t risk future criminal prosecution.

“I think they [the laws] can actually be counterproductive,” Anderson said.

Researchers Carol Galletly and Steven Pinkerton of the Medical College of Wisconsin agree. Galletly and Pinkerton, professors in the college’s Center for AIDS Intervention Research, co-authored an 2006 study in the journal AIDS and Behavior.

In the study, Galletly and Pinkerton argued the laws may give HIV-negative people the impression that there is minimized risk if their sexual partners don’t disclose their HIV-positive status.

The study found 23 states with HIV-specific transmission or disclosure laws, with penalties ranging up to 30 years in prison. But only three of the 23 laws mention condoms and only two acknowledge their benefit, suggesting most may actually undermine education and prevention efforts, according to the study.

Bret Camp, associate executive director for the Resource Center of Dallas, said the recent local case underscores the need for HIV testing and safe sex.

“It’s alarming that anyone would intentionally seek to infect someone with HIV,” Camp said. “It’s even scarier when it’s right in your backyard.

“This kind of also demonstrates that no one is low risk,” Camp added. “These people assumed they were low-risk individuals, and they ended up being high risk.”

E-mail Wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 27, 2007

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