What does Bishop T.D. Jakes have to say about Michael Irvin’s Out magazine interview?

Bishop T.D. Jakes

I finally got around to reading the Out magazine piece about Michael Irvin, and here’s my only question: Did Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas give Irvin his blessing on this? In the story, we learn that Irvin considers Jakes his “spiritual father” and that it was under Jakes’ counseling that Irvin finally came to terms with his brother’s sexual orientation – and his own homophobia. But Jakes isn’t exactly the type of pastor about whom you’d expect to hear that. He’s made some pretty bigoted statements over the years, calling homosexuality a “brokenness” and saying he wouldn’t hire a sexually active gay person. In fact, Jakes seems like exactly the type of person Irvin is referring to in this passage:

Irvin wants to eradicate homophobia in every corner of American society. He points to churches that have skewed the word of God to persecute those who don’t share their dogma; he shakes his head at the black culture he says has gone adrift in a sea of homophobia; and he said it’s time to end the second class–citizen status of gays in the eyes of the law.

“I don’t see how any African-American with any inkling of history can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”

One one hand, Irvin considers Jakes his spirtiual father, but on the other, he says he doesn’t even want to know an African-American person who doesn’t support LGBT equality — which, based on past statements, would be a fairly accurate description of Jakes. I’m curious as to whether the author of the Out story, Cyd Zeigler, asked Irvin about this seeming incongruency, and if so, what Irvin said. Here’s one possible explanation: A few years back, Jakes’ son was arrested in a gay sex sting at Kiest Park in Dallas. Has that changed Jakes’ views about gay people, just as Irvin’s brother’s sexual orientation changed his? If so, is Jakes going to speak up about it like Irvin has? And if not, is Irvin working on Jakes? If Jakes, one of the most influential African-American pastors in the nation, were to come out in support of LGBT equality, it would be just as significant — if not more — than Irvin doing so. We’re all ears, bishop, all ears.

—  John Wright

Man in rape case also charged with assault in connection with HIV status

Tumbwe, former minister with Potter’s House, claims sex was consensual; 2 other women say defendant didn’t reveal his status and gave them HIV

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Nathaniel Tumbwe is on trial in Dallas for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The weapon is his penis and his bodily fluids are the bullets because he has AIDS, herpes and genital warts.

According to testimony in Tumbwe’s criminal trial, Tumbwe made repeated advances to Carolyn Hudson, which she refused. In October 2008, she reported to police that he raped her in her house. She said she invited him to her home twice to discuss religion and on that second visit he raped her.

Weeks later she learned he had AIDS.

The defense claimed that Hudson simply regrets having had a relationship with Tumbwe.

Hudson is a receptionist at Potters House, a megachurch in Southwest Dallas. Tumbwe refers to himself as a reverend who was affiliated with the church at the time.

Hudson has tested negative for HIV. Two other women who contracted the virus after unprotected sex with Tumbwe will testify at the punishment phase of the trial if he is convicted.

Ken Upton, staff attorney for Lambda Legal in Dallas, said that calling the penis a weapon is unusual.

He said that Lambda Legal has filed briefs in cases where police charged someone with assault when a person with HIV that was being arrested spit on the officer. Since that is not a method of transmission and spitting is not normally seen as assault, the courts dismissed the charges.

In a 2009 case in Michigan, a man with HIV arrested for assault was also charged with bioterrorism after biting his victim. Lambda Legal filed a brief in the matter.

“This charge leads to public misunderstanding of how HIV is transmitted, contributes to stigmatizing people with HIV and undermines important public health goals,” Lambda Legal attorneys wrote in their brief.
In June 2010, the bioterrorism charge was dismissed.

But Upton warned about having unprotected sex or not revealing one’s HIV status to a sexual partner.

“Knowingly having unprotected, nonconsensual sex puts it in a different category,” Upton said.

He said in Texas it would at least be a good argument for battery.

Why Dallas prosecutors would go for the assault with a deadly weapon charge, however, when rape has severe penalties, Upton said he could only speculate. He thought they might have added the charge in order to get a plea bargain. Once the case went to trail, he suggested it might have been to further bias the jury against the defendant or simply add charges.

Jamille Bradfield is the public information officer for the Dallas County district attorney’s office. She said she could not comment on the case because the trial is ongoing.

The charge has worked in North Texas before.

In 2009, a Frisco man was convicted of six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — his bodily fluids — because he was HIV positive. Ten women who seroconverted after having sex with him testified for the prosecution. The sex was apparently consensual. No rape was charged.

That case was the first in which DNA testing showed that the defendant was the source of the infection. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

In March, a Houston man was charged with having unprotected sex with a minor. The charges were upgraded to aggravated sexual assault when police learned that he was aware of his HIV positive status.

Enhancing the charges when HIV is involved is becoming more common according to The Center for HIV Law & Policy. They list about 60 current or recent cases across the country. Charges range from spitting and knowingly spreading infectious disease to assault with intent to kill.

The cases involving sex, rather than spitting or biting, all appear to involve heterosexuals.

The organization calls penalties for crimes involving persons with HIV “draconian,” with up to 25 years in prison even when no transmission occurred.

In the Tumbwe case, there was apparently no infection in the case of the rape victim. Hudson has not tested positive for HIV but is being told that she needs to retest once a year for 10 years.

Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services at Resource Center Dallas, said that was ridiculous and unnecessary.

“Technology has advanced,” Camp said. “HIV RNA testing is now available at Nelson Tebedo Clinic through a partnership with Dallas County. It detects HIV in seven to 10 days after an exposure.”

He said for peace of mind, he’d recommend a follow-up at 60 days, but called even that medically unnecessary. He said he knows of no cases where someone suddenly tested positive years after exposure.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been following the Tumbwe trial and said the case is of particular interest because of the trust people place in other people involved in their church.

He said that prosecuting crimes involving churches are particularly difficult.

“Often people associated with a church are reluctant to speak up,” Clohessy said. “By cooperating with law enforcement, churchgoers are strengthening their congregations and making them healthier communities.”

And many churches are reluctant to discuss HIV prevention. By going public, Hudson may have helped open the discussion of several topics at the church including HIV testing and revealing status to partners as well as sexual abuse by church elders.

At press time, the trial was still in progress. Tumbwe faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 16, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas