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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Canada: Vancouver police hunt one man, add more charges to another

In Vancouver, two different men have been accused of not disclosing their HIV-positive status prior to sex with their female partners. Local media are having a field day.

The first, a Caucasian man in his late 20s, was arrested on May 19, according to a June 4th CBC News report following which North Vancouver police issued a press release that included the man's name and photo which appeared in news reports throughout Canada.

"Police have what is called a duty to warn when it comes to things like this and that is one reason we put out a name and photograph so quickly," [Const. Michael] McLaughlin told CBC News. "One of our primary responsibilities is keeping people safe, and enforcing the law goes along with that."

The fishing expedition has now turned up four further women who also claimed the accused did not disclose before sex, according to June 30th CBC News report that continues to carry the man's photo.
RCMP in North Vancouver are recommending four more charges of aggravated assault against [name of accused], who was first charged with the offence in May after police said he exposed his partner to the virus that causes AIDS without telling her. Since that charge was laid, four other women have come forward with enough evidence for investigators to recommend four more charges against [him], RCMP said in a release Wednesday.

The accused is out on bail "under court-imposed conditions that require him to tell any potential partners that he is HIV-positive."

Vancouver's tabloid, The Province, tells a rather different story - at least the headline appears to tell a different story.

Four more women say they were infected by HIV-positive man

Actually, no! They didn't. The actual story in The Province is very similar to CBC News' coverage - there is no mention of HIV-positive tests or accusations of infection.

The CBC and The Province coverage also includes the name (but not the photo) of a second man, a 38 year-old with an African name, from the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster. The man, who faces three counts of aggravated sexual assault for either not disclosing to one woman three times, or three women once, is presented by the police, and therefore the media, as a dangerous man on the loose.

CBC reports it this way

The offences date back to May of 2006 and there is a concern that [he] may have headed to Eastern Canada and will continue to have sex with women without telling them about his condition, police said.

The Province makes him seem much more like a calculated serial infector
New Westminster Mounties are hunting for 38-year-old [name of accused], who has been charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault after having sex with three women while knowing he was HIV-positive. Crown counsel has issued a Canada-wide warrant for [his] arrest, as police believe he may have traveled to eastern Canada. The offenses he is charged with date back to May 2006, and police are concerned [he] may plan to put more women at risk.

These BC 'name, shame and create fear' cases are in direct contrast to the recent Vancouver court case where the accused was acquitted, and where the judge ordered a publication ban on the name of both the accuser and the accused.

They also contrast with a recent case in Edmonton, Alberta, analysed in an April 23rd story, where a 50-year-old HIV-positive man was charged with aggravated sexual assault after allegedly failing to disclose his status to his female partner.

The piece quotes a police spokeswoman who explains that they did not release name or photo of the accused in order to protect the man's partner.
“Releasing any details would without a doubt identify the victim. We are not releasing the name of the accused strictly to protect the identity of the victim. This is not a case of an unknown male with HIV forcing sex on women. The sexual intercourse in this case was consensual. However, the male failed to inform the woman that he was infected with HIV."
In this case the accused man was released from custody with a trial set for March 2011.

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