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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

US: Pennsylvania woman gets 21 months to 10 years for spitting (updated)

Update: Oct 27th

After pleading guilty in September, on October 16th Crystal Visnesky was sentenced to "21 months to 10 years" plus "180 to 448 days for simple assault, with credit for time served of the full sentence."

Original post: Jan 11th

A 34 year-old Pennsylvania woman living with HIV and hepatitis C has been charged with aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, aggravated harassment by prisoner, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct after it is alleged that she spit in the face of another prisoner whilst on remand for simple assault charges.

Why? Because she has violated Pennysylvania Statute §2703 which states:

A person who is confined in or committed to any jail, prison or correctional or penal institution is guilty of a felony of the second degree if he or she, while so confined (or being transported to or from such a facility), intentionally or knowingly causes another to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, saliva, urine or feces by throwing, tossing, spitting or expelling such fluid or material when, at the time of the offense, the person knew, had reason to know or should have known or believed that such fluid or material was infected with HIV.

Accordingly, by spitting, she has, apparently "risked serious bodily injury" under "circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life" and, according to the report in The Citizens Voice faces a possible maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

I've written several previous posts on spitting (click here for page refresh that lists all of them), and all I can add here is that laws like this – and reporting that omits to mention that HIV cannot be transmitted in this way – add greatly to HIV misinformation, fear and stigma.

HIV-positive prisoner charged with assault for spitting at another inmate
by Josh Mrozinski
Saturday, January 10, 2009

TUNKHANNOCK — A Wyoming County inmate infected with hepatitis C and HIV was charged Friday with several counts of assault for spitting on another inmate last month.

Crystal Visnesky, 34, is charged with aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, aggravated harassment by prisoner, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.

Awaiting sentencing on Wednesday for a simple assault, Visnesky was being held at the county jail in lieu of $5,000 bail. The sentencing was postponed after Visnesky spit in the face of another inmate on Dec. 16.

According to the criminal complaint, jail Warden Mickey Ameigh contacted borough police on Dec. 16 to report the spitting incident.

The warden told police that Visnesky had advised the facility’s nurse she was infected with hepatitis C and HIV. The incident occurred while the inmates were in the gym, according to the criminal complaint.

An analysis of Visnesky’s blood on Dec. 24 tested positive for HIV and hepatitis C.

The other inmate, who is no longer incarcerated, told police Tuesday that Visnesky spit in her face.

Visnesky denied spitting in the woman’s face, according to the criminal complaint.

The criminal complaint alleges Visnesky put the other woman in serious bodily injury under “circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

The charges were filed Friday in the office of Magisterial District Judge Carl Smith.

Visnesky faces a possible maximum sentence of up to 20 years in state prison, Wyoming County District Attorney George Skumanick said.


Anonymous said...

Forgetting for a moment the general inanity of this, I still found it curious that the article stated as though it were a fact, that Visnesky spat in another inmate's face. From what I read, that's an allegation. There aren't even any details given about the circumstances of the alleged incident, save that the two were in the gym. Was there an altercation, or maybe they were in conversation and a little spray came out.
That's the problem with stupid laws, they make it so hard even for well meaning folks to do what's right.


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