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Plea deal reached in Missouri HIV case
2017-09-22

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After four years, the case of Michael Johnson—a former college wrestler charged with infecting a same-sex partner with HIV—has been resolved with a plea deal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The former wrestler was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty in May 2015. Later that year, an appeals court overturned the conviction.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar has denied that the prosecution of the case was motivated by Johnson's race or sexual orientation, adding that Johnson kept sex partners from making informed decisions.

"It is disturbing that Michael is not yet a free man and was not exonerated after his years-long struggle for justice, but we respect and support his decision not to risk a life behind bars," said Mayo Schreiber, deputy director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy in a press release. "It likely is the end of his case, but our work to bring an end to HIV criminal laws like Missouri's continues."

Several groups have stressed opposition to Missouri's HIV-exposure law, including the U.S. Department of Justice, Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and others.

Maxx Boykin—HIV prevention justice manager and manager of community organizing for AIDS Foundation of Chicago—emailed a statement to Windy City Times: "I have been working on the Michael Johnson Working Group who has work tirelessly to make sure to help Michael get legal assistance along with help him through this difficult journey.

"The travesty is that many people living with HIV especially those of color will continue to be stigmatized and discriminated against by laws that with new technology in prevention and care are both out of date and dangerous to those communities that are most impacted. We will continue to work for Michael and those who will continue to be criminalized."

The Post-Dispatch article is at STLToday.com/.


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