A San Diego man has received a six-month prison term for deliberately infecting his partner with HIV.
Thomas Guerra, a landscape artist, met another man using the gay dating app Grindr in April 2013. The other man, who was not named in court, subsequently filed charges, claiming that he was unaware Guerra had HIV.
"There's no question in my mind that he's guilty," San Diego County judge Katherine Lewis said. "There's no doubt in my mind, Mr. Guerra would have been convicted" if the case had gone to trial.
Guerra remained defiant, showing no remorse, which prompted the judge to describe his rejection of any responsibility for the incident as jaw-dropping.
"I don't think in my 25-plus years in a law, I've ever seen somebody be so lacking of insight, blame or responsibility that you have demonstrated," Lewis said.
Guerra was only charged with a misdemeanor. He pleaded no contest in court, meaning he acknowledged that the prosecution could prove its case without admitting guilt. However, for sentencing purposes, it is equivalent to a guilty plea.
"I did not rape this person,” Guerra told the court. “I did not take him against his will. Within five minutes of Grindr text-messaging he was there. If you're that reckless with your life, how can you blame anyone else for your actions?"
But the prosecution presented evidence to the court, which it claimed proved Guerra’s guilt. This included 11,000 text messages and 36 video clips in which he was shown to have been dishonest with previous sexual partners about the fact he had HIV.
The case was the first of its kind in San Diego.
"I think that's a tremendous oversight in the law if this is just a misdemeanor," Lewis said. "If any good comes out of [this case], [hopefully it's] that this law would change" and become a felony.