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Thursday, 25 September 2008

US: Another Michigan man accused of HIV exposure, libelled on TV and online

UPDATE Feb 3rd 2009: Mr Kurtz was sentenced to just two months in jail, according to a report from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Travis Michael Kurtz, 25, could have faced up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count of failing to notify sex partners that he is HIV-positive...He pleaded guilty to two counts in December in an agreement with the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office that included the provision he work with authorities to notify other sexual partners that he is HIV-positive. "He never intended to harm anyone,'' said Kurtz's defense attorney, Gary R. Peterson. Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge J. Richardson Johnson also ordered Kurtz to spend one year on probation, pay victim restitution, court costs and state fees.

ORIGINAL POST: A 25 year-old Michigan man, arraigned last week following two complaints (one from a gay man, and one from a woman) that he had unprotected sex without disclosure, is now subject of intense scrutiny (and gossip) in his home town of Kalamazoo thanks to the power of TV and the internet.

A local TV station interviewed the two complainants (surely that is prejudicial?) and the more than 125 comments on the TV station's news story webpage include details written by the two complainants that must not only be considered highly prejudicial but also libellous.

Obviously these comments aren't moderated, but how can this be tolerated? I'm not repeating any of the comments here, but if you click on this link to the story, you'll see what I'm talking about.

This is a very worrying trend. I'm often sent emails and comments for the website from complainants who want to tell me their side of the story, before the case has reached trial (and sometimes before there has been an arrest). I wouldn't consider publishing these allegations, not only for legal reasons, but for ethical reason, too. The legal system, as flawed as it is, is the only way that anyone accused of a 'crime' can have fair hearing - trial by media should not be an option.

He didn't tell them he was HIV positive, now they are speaking out
September 18, 2008

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) - An HIV positive man is facing big trouble for having unprotected sex without telling his partners that he was HIV positive.

Travis Kurtz, a 25-year-old man from Kalamazoo, was formally charged Thursday with two counts for failing to notify his partners that he was HIV positive. Kurtz faces up to four years in prison for each count.

Newschannel 3 spoke with two of the uninformed partners Thursday.

It's a very difficult situation for both of them. Both say the cared very much about Kurtz. Coming forward with their stories was a very brave and unselfish act.

"I asked him lots of times have you been tested?" Lisa Stoner told Newschannel 3, "Oh I've been tested. I'm good, I'm good."

Stoner started dating Kurtz three years ago, knowing that he was bi-sexual, she said that didn't bother her.

"I kept thinking you can't help who you fall in love with," Stoner said, "it was us against the world, and I loved him."

What Stoner didn't know is that Kurtz is HIV positive and that he was diagnosed as such years earlier, when he was just nineteen.

"It's blown my world apart," Stoner said, "not only have I found out that somebody I love has HIV, but that he didn't tell me, that the whole relationship feels like a lie."

Kurtz never told Stoner, they broke up in June and Stoner was finally told the truth by Kurtz's new boyfriend, Tim Welch, when she ran into him by chance in September while out with Kurtz. Welch himself had to be told by a mutual friend.

"The day I found out I wound up having a seizure and wound up in the hospital," Welch said, "and he came into the room and I just started crying."

Even then, Welch says that Kurtz was very combative and evasive.

"I wrote out a whole list of questions and he just simply said if he felt he was done with the conversation he would let me know and that would be the end of it," Welch said.

Welch never got an answer to most of his questions, now he and Stoner want to warn others who may have been intimate with Kurtz and to caution everyone about the continuing danger of HIV and AIDS.

"I want people to be aware," Stoner said, "I want people to be sure they get tested and be more cautious."

Both Welch and Stoner have been tested for HIV, the first tests came back negative, but they will need to be tested several more times in the coming year.

Portage Police are investigating to see if Kurtz may have infected anyone else.

More than a million people are living with the HIV virus in the United States, and studies show that 56,000 were diagnosed in 2006 alone. It's estimated that a quarter of the people who are infected are not even aware that they have HIV.


Anonymous said...

It is really sad, I live in Kalamazoo and I just feel so bad for everyone involved, its sad when scorned lovers use the courts and media as a forum for their anger/rage.


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