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Seattle Police Say Male Escort Knowingly Exposed Clients to HIV

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee June 2, 2010

Seattle Vice detectives are investigating a male escort for assault after, police records say, he admitted "to having unprotected sex with...five men after knowing he tested positive for HIV."


In January, a former partner of the 22-year-old escort—who we're not naming as he hasn't been charged—contacted police and said the man, who is HIV positive, was advertising himself as an escort on Craigslist.


Police found numerous escort ads the man had posted on Craigslst and, on April 26th, an undercover vice detective called the man, said he was looking "to have fun" and asked to arrange a meet up.


A police search warrant affidavit released last week says the man told the detective he charged $100 for sex, and that he would "top" or penetrate the detective, and would not be wearing a condom during intercourse. The man also told police he had previously worked as an escort on Capitol Hill in Seattle, but was now located in Tacoma.


On April 27tb, the undercover detective drove to a mobile home in Lakewood to meet the man. Police records say the detective again asked the man about using a condom, but the 22-year-old told him he "just got tested and he knew he was 'clean'."


Detectives then took the 22-year-old man into custody.


According to police records, the man later told detectives "he did not start prostituting until after he learned he was HIV positive" in November. The man also allegedly told police he hadn't informed any of his clients about his HIV status because "he was embarrassed and...wanted to make money."


Police records say when detectives contacted the 22-year-old man's clients,  they all said he "never disclosed his HIV status or any other medical illness with them before having sex."


One of the men told police he had sought out the 22-year-old for oral sex, but when they met up, the 22-year-old man "actually wanted to have anal sex with him and tried several times."


Police filed a search warrant last month seeking information about ads posted by the 22-year-old on Craigslist, Backpage.com, and adam4adam. According to police records, the 22-year-old's profile page on adam4adam states: "uncut, safe sex only, HIV Negative."


Police records indicate SPD's vice unit is investigating this as an assault case, however, prosecuting the 22-year-old man for assault may prove difficult.


If convicted on five counts of felony assault, the 22-year-old man could potentially face 50 years in prison. However, under Washington state law, prosecutors would be required to prove the 22-year-old man intended to harm and infect his clients with HIV in order to get an assault conviction.


Prosecutors would more likely file reckless endangerment charges—a gross misdemeanor—which carries a one-year sentence.


In 2004, a Thurston County Superior Court judge sentenced a 32-year-old man to 137 years in prison after he exposed 17 women to HIV. However, in that case, prosecutors were able to prove Whitfield had intended to infect his partners with HIV.


For now, King and Pierce County prosecutors are working to determine what, if any, charges could be filed against the 22-year-old man.


Meanwhile, King County health officials are working to find and notify any of the 22-year-old's other partners, and inform them that they may have been exposed to HIV.

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