Officials say HIV-positive serviceman did not tell male partner he had virus
RALEIGH, N.C. Military and civilian authorities have charged an HIV-positive soldier with assault with a deadly weapon, accusing him of having unprotected sex with a partner he didn’t tell about the infection.
Military and civilian prosecutors haven’t yet decided who will prosecute the case against Pfc. Johnny Lamar Dalton, said Maj. Tom Earnhardt, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
Dalton, 25, was arrested last week and was being held Tuesday, July 17, in the Cumberland County jail on a $50,000 bond, said sheriff’s department spokeswoman Debbie Tanna. She said inmates weren’t allowed to give interviews, and a jailer said the soldier hadn’t been appointed an attorney.
Along with the assault count, Dalton faces civilian charges of committing a crime against nature and misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. Earnhardt said he faces the same charges in the military’s criminal justice system.
An arrest warrant filed by county officials accuses him of not telling his male partner, an 18-year-old civilian, that he has HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Earnhardt said Dalton is assigned to the 22nd Aviation Support Battalion, which is part of the 82nd Airborne. He was ordered by his commander in November not to have unprotected sex after it was discovered he was HIV positive.
State law also prohibits a person infected with HIV from having sex unless condoms are used and requires that sexual partners be notified.
“All the command knew was that he had been diagnosed with HIV,” said Earnhardt, who added that being HIV-positive is one of several medical conditions, including pregnancy, heart disease and cancer, that would prevent a soldier from deploying. “What a service member does when they’re off duty, we have to depend on their honor and integrity.”
The military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rules allows gays to serve if they keep their sexual orientation private and do not engage in homosexual acts. The law prohibits commanders from asking about a person’s sex life and requires discharge of those who openly acknowledge they are gay.
Earnhardt said Army prosecutors aren’t focusing on that aspect of the case.
“Our real focus is here we are with two families who are having to cope with the tragedy of this disease,” Earnhardt said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 13, 2007