Charges Dropped Against Colonel Who Allegedly Knowingly Exposed A Woman To HIV

| by Mackenzie Fleming

Charges filed in January against a special forces colonel who was accused of intentionally exposing a woman to HIV have been dismissed, reports Army Times.

All charges and specifications against Col. Jeffery Pounding, which the Army withdrew and dismissed, included: knowingly exposing a woman to HIV by having unprotected sex, assault, adultery and conduct unbecoming of an officer. 

The charges stemmed from an alleged affair, according to testimony during the Article 32 investigation. The November testimony at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., included that the supposed affair took place in Texas, Virginia and North Carolina.

Initially, Pounding’s court-martial was to begin July 21 after he was referred on Jan. 9. Maj. Gen. Jeffery Buchanan, commander of the Military District of Washington, had referred Pounding to court-martial before he withdrew and dismissed the charges against him in June.

The woman who Pounding was accused of exposing to HIV testified at the Article 32 hearing that she had a relationship with him for more than two years. She confirmed that the pair did not use protection during sex and that Pounding had not told her of his HIV status. The woman said she was “devastated” when she learned she had been exposed to HIV, Army Times reported.

Col. Josslyn Aberle, a spokeswoman for the Military District of Washington, said a memorandum signed June 4 stated that the decision by Buchanan had been made upon the advice of his staff judge advocate Col. John Carrell. Newly discovered evidence in the case also led Buchanan to dismiss the charges, Aberle said, although she would not specify the details.  

“The additional evidence that was discovered is of a sensitive nature and will not be disclosed in order to protect both parties,” Aberle explained.

Changes to military law based on a Feb. 23 appellate opinion for U.S. v. Gutierrez was another factor in the decision regarding Pounding's charges.

"Based on the precedent set in the Gutierrez case, it was determined that the evidence in Pounding's case was not legally sufficient to meet the element of 'likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm,'" Aberle said.

Pounding’s defense counsel was informed of the decision to dismiss the charges and, according to Army Times, Pounding will remain on active duty and was assigned to the National Guard Bureau. 

Source: Army Times (2) / Photo credit: Army Times