Nick Rhoades: Imprisoned For Months, Punished For Life, For Failure To Disclose

This link will bring you to one of the saddest stories you'll read this month. It's the story of an Iowan named Nick Rhoades; a person with HIV who has always strictly adhered to his medication regimen. In the summer of 2008, his viral load was so puny as to be undetectable.

RhoadesOne evening in June of that year, Rhoades hooked up with a man named Adam Plendl. He used a condom, but declined to disclose his status until afterwards. When Rhoades did disclose, Plendl panicked. From CNN:

Plendl, 22 at the time, says his life was forever changed … and that he was severely depressed and suffered panic attacks while waiting to find out if he was infected.

"It was 181 days of pure fear, that six-month window when you don't know," he says.

"Individuals that are HIV positive have a moral and currently legal obligation to inform any of their sexual partners of their positive status. Individuals should have the choice as to whether or not they would engage with someone who is HIV positive when they are not. In this case, that choice — and what I also consider a right — was not afforded to me."

Plendl called the police. Three months after the June hookup, Rhoades was arrested, and charged with "criminal transmission of HIV" — even though medical tests then and later showed that there was no transmission of HIV, and Plendl remains negative. Rhoades's attorney advised him to plead guilty to the charge, which he did. His bail was set at a quarter million dollars, and Rhoades couldn't pay that. He spent nine months in jail, much of it in solitary confinement, before being sentenced to 25 years in prison. That sentence was subsequently commuted to time served, five years of probation, and life on the sex offender registry. Says Rhoades:

My life is forever changed. Do a Google search for my name and some pretty horrific stuff comes up. I have had to change a private medical condition and a private life to public domain.

That's not to say I can't be happy, find employment, have a satisfying life, but it's never going to just go away.

Read all about it here.

Comments

  1. mikenola says

    this is a difficult story to have just one opinion about.

    on the one hand as a negative sexually active gay man i have to say that I really think it is my business to know in advance if a sexual partner is positive or negative before we have sex.

    on the other hand, a 25 year sentence, 5 years probation and registering as a sex offender is really harsh in this case.

    If the guy had been running around having unprotected sex and intentionally exposing others to infection, my opinion would be that life in prison was just. but that is not the case here.

  2. says

    I see both sides of the issue here. Men (and women) engaging in sexual activity should have open discussions about each other’s sexual health status (including their possible infection with HIV, herpes, HPV, and any other STIs). Open dialogue with sexual partners can help reduce risk and is an essential component of sexual negotiation between partners. That being said, however, linking sex acts with “criminal transmission of HIV” is ludicrous. Whenever two (or more) persons engage in sexual activity, they are assuming responsibility for the associated risks. Outside of a long-term, monogamous, and committed relationship, everyone should assume his or her sexual partner is HIV+ and act accordingly.

  3. tom says

    Okay, this is ridiculous. How is there a way to prove transmission? Plendel could have caught HIV from any hook up that year!! Also when the HIV level is undetectable, guess what? no transmission, assuming that Plendel is the top. The way you get HIV is by being on bottom with someone whose viral load is high. Which means someone not taking their drugs, or unaware of their status. Also, pure fear? Really? Rhodes should have just lied to Plendel and told him he was negative.

  4. Icebloo says

    I was shocked by the bias of this story from Towleroad. I have opinions on both sides of this debate.

    This guy is not an innocent little boy like this story tries to make you believe. He has an infection that can and still does kill- OFTEN. There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS.

    Living with HIV affects EVERYTHING – the drugs you can take for anything else, the treatments you can get for anything else, diabetes medication, eye medication etc etc. As a nurse I know that many, many of the drugs I give to patient in the hospital for non HIV related reasons I just cannot give to someone with HIV. People just do not understand how many issues are still affected with having HIV.

    I have been in a similar situation to the victim about 6 years ago and luckily I tested negative but the risk should have been MY decision – not anyone else’s. It’s my body and my life – I should have been given all of the facts so I, as an adult, could make an informed decision about wanting to have sex or not with someone with HIV.

  5. says

    And people wonder why no one wants to disclose? @ Mikenola, why is it your business if you are undertaking safe sex? I mean, seriously, do expect every positive man to tell you when that is your attitude? And well done Dr Christopher, you stated it clearly here. ASSUME everyone is positive, it is the ONLY way to stay negative if you are… (Or, you know, grow a pair and recognise that live is a risk anyway…)

  6. Mike says

    Tom, it’s comments like that which makes laws like this and inforcement so important . Personally, I think the punishment is fair. Hopefully this will prevent someone else from putting someone else’s life at risk.

  7. Philip Wester says

    Condoms aren’t always 100% safe. He had no right to not disclose his status to his hookup. 25 years in jail and life within the sex offender registry may be a bit harsh, but he was reckless, disrespectful and VERY SELFISH.

    He wants to have sex? That’s his prerogative. I and others have every right to screen out potential sexual partners because of their STDs. The fact that he didn’t tell this guy ’til AFTER the hookup means that he KNEW or suspected that disclosure of his status prior to sex would’ve likely resulted in the hookup running off.

    It is sad that some people have HID/AIDS. They, however, are SELFISH, reckless and disrespectful when they do not disclose their carrier status to potential sexual partners.

  8. John says

    I am surprised at how one sided this post is. It was not his life that he was gambling with. Despite all the advances in treatment, HIV is still a life-changing and ultimately fatal infection. I’ve seen too many patients on the other side of this. Being so laissez faire about transmission is dangerous, and huge problem in our community.

  9. Jay says

    He should have disclosed his status BEFORE not after having sex. On the other hand, once his sex-partner was found not to have contracted HIV from the encounter, the charges should have been dropped.

  10. Mark says

    Although Rhodes should have disclosed, where is the other man’s responsibility to ask? I am assuming that Plendl is neither a child nor a mentally deficient adult and if that is the case then it was as much his duty and responsibility to ask about Rhodes status prior to sex as it was Rhodes’ to disclose. It is 2012 you idiot. It is not “bad manners” to ask someone their HIV status before having sexy with them.

  11. Ricco says

    Yes, people who are HIV positive have a moral obligation to let people know their status . . . that said, Plendl is a Pu**y, a jerk, and dispicable human being, who has forgotten one essential fact . . .that he (that all of us) ultimately responsible for our health health.

    It is not as if Mr. Rhoades did not take some precautions, and was purposely, with malicious and criminal intent trying to infect Plendl.

    I am negative, but if that should ever change, I will not be blaming other people for my choices.

    From the inception of HIV and the AIDS nightmare, I always assumed it was MY responsibility to look after my health.

    Here is hoping that karma will find Mr. Plendl in this or some other life.

  12. lazycrockett says

    Never ever accept a plea deal where you admit guilt. Far too many people end up in the system due to Prison kick back to judges for accepting a plea deal. The prison system has become nothing more than a money making business where innocence or guilt isn’t a concern.

  13. vin says

    Mark:

    Plendl should have asked but the LEGAL burden is on Rhodes to disclose. “Oops, I infected you with HIV because you didn’t ask” doesn’t cut it.

  14. Ryan says

    He obviously committed a wrong, but the sentence is far too harsh. His name should be taken off the sex offender list, at least, and he shouldn’t have to be considered an ex-con (sentenced for something over a year), either.

    Just think what that kid did to Tyler Clementi… taped him over the internet having sex… and not even he got put on the sex offender list.

    9 months, “much of it in solitary conefinement” (which meets the UN’s definition of torture) is all time that he can’t have back – a more than severe enough punishment.

    Barring him from ever getting a decent job again or living in most decent neighborhoods is not only way overkill, destroying his life, but hurts us all, too.

    Our country has some seriously F’d up ideas on prison and punishment. This is a very unfortunate example.

  15. Ricco says

    @ICEBLOO . . . for a nurse you are surprisingly paranoid, and willing to shift responsibility. Actually, even those of us who are not nurses, know as much as a nurse about how HIV can affect a persons life, and some of us, sadly, know even more than most nurses, or doctors for that matter. So you need not be so condescending, Nurse Ratchet.

    “I should have been given all of the facts so I, as an adult, could make an informed decision about wanting to have sex or not with someone with HIV,” you write.

    Well, actually, you were given all the facts. We all know what is involved when we have sex with someone we do not know very well.

    If you ever, God Forbid, ever contract HIV, you, and you alone will be responsible; so unless you are brutally raped, remember this, you DECIDE whether or not to open your legs.

    I will tell you what is even scarier than having sex with someone who is HIV positive, and that is having a nurse who has as much compassion as an ostrich pecking at her young.

    Sad to say but there are way too many bad nurses out there.

  16. Kenneth says

    Thank you Dr. Christopher for the most rational comment here. The hysteria shown here is counter-productive to the fight against HIV/AIDS. As long as laws like this exist, people will either continue the idea that it is better not to know and not get tested, or they will just lie when hooking up. I bet not one of you has ever considered the possibility that when you ask a hook up before letting him slide his member, with or without a condom, into you, that he may have been lying to you to get what he wants. It is bad enough we have to face this kind of hysteria and stigma from the straight community, but in 2012, it is appalling to face from our own.

  17. Gary says

    Assuming this is the whole story, I have to say it’s way too harsh a punishment. The risk from a single unprotected encounter is actually quite low and this guy had an undetectable viral load, AND used a condom. I do not think the law should be involved here. In personal relations, we are all responsible for our own decisions. There are many, many behaviors we might consider “wrong” without making them illegal.

  18. scott says

    The bottom should’ve asked- but Rhoades should’ve also disclosed. I def think 25 years was way too harsh for an act that was ultimately proven to not have happened- and being placed on a sex offender list, as well as being on parole for 5 years was way too much.

  19. TrueWords says

    I always like to play “devils advocate”…

    1. you disclose that you are HIV+
    2. you have sex with someone and practice what you both deem as SAFER SEX
    3. the HIV- person becomes infected
    4. the HIV- person decides to say that you did not tell him your status

    WHOM DO YOU BELIEVE IN THIS SCENARIO??

    The truth is many HIV+ men only want to sleep with another HIV+ person for this reason…the media and gay community sees you as a liar and a disease spreading individual no matter what measures you have taken as a mature responsible adult.

  20. Ark says

    @Philip Wester – You win for the most ridiculous 3 paragraphs. Not only that, but dangerous ones as well. HIV was not transmitted. Protection was used and furthermore Rhoades has undetectable levels if HIV which makes trasmission all the more difficult. Plendl should be deeply ashamed of himself. He just ruined a man’s life.

    And yes condoms aren’t 100% absolutely perfect but it is dangerous to even remotely imply that they aren’t reliable because they are. They are HIGHLY AND EXTREMELY effective. Driving isn’t 100% safe either but people do it everyday.

    And I agree with Kenneth above. Some of the comments are appallng and deeply so.

  21. will. says

    i feel really bad for this guy that his life is now totally ruined BUT as a bottom, i have no sympathy. status is the FIRST thing i wanna hear outta your mouth. i don’t care how “undetectable” you are, if you have tested positive for HIV i want to know. i probably would’ve called the cops too.

  22. says

    Unless I’m reading the comments wrong, at least one person seems to believe that Plendl tested positive. He didn’t. He tested negative, so there was no transmission of HIV, much less deliberate transmission (which would be criminal).

    The criminal charge is outrageous in this case. Yes, it would have been better if there had been an open discussion between the two men about HIV status before they had sex. But that discussion works both ways. Did Plendl ask his partner’s status? If not, why would he assume he was negative? And, since they used a condom, taking reasonable precautions, it seems strange that Plendl would suffer such paralyzing fear, unless he is unusually paranoid, in which case maybe he should not have been having sex that was outside his personal risk comfort zone. (Everyone deals with risk differently.)

    As some others have said, if you’re hooking up with people, assume they could be positive–or at least ask–because you can’t assume everyone you hook up with is going to be negative or forthcoming. If you don’t truly know a person’s status, are you still willing to have protected sex? If not, don’t have it.

    Would it have been better if Rhoades had disclosed his status? Absolutely. But some of the responses here suggest why people would be reluctant to do so–they’d become pariahs. If Rhoades had not taken precautions and had deliberately infected Plendl it would be a different matter. He shouldn’t have served prison time or be on the sex offender registry at all.

  23. Persa says

    This is insane. Every individual is responsible for their own sexual health. You can NEVER know if your sexual partner is telling the truth or if they even KNOW the truth about their status and what they may or may not have been exposed to.
    You can’t criminalize this man because other people are paranoid and stupid.
    He is NOT a sex offender. He did not engage in unconsentual sex, he didn’t assault anyone, he didn’t rape or expose himself to anyone without their permission, nor did have sex with a minor.
    This is abuse of what the Sex Offenders registry is supposed to be about.
    This will control where he can work, where he can live for the REST OF HIS LIFE because one trick was paranoid and insane.
    If you don’t ever want to risk being exposed to a sexually transmitted disease or infection, DON’T HAVE SEX WITH ANYONE, EVER!
    I can’t believe that other gay people would support this kind of demonization of HIV+ people. Why stop at HIV? Why not criminalize people with every other sexually transmitted disease/infection that someone might have or have been exposed to?
    This is outlandish.
    Yes, millions of people died of HIV and it’s horrible for those of us who lived through it but this is like some kind of evil scifi fantasy plot. Unbelievable. I’m horrified at this case but even more at the people in my community who let their fear and frustration and anger about how HIV and AIDS has ravished our community lead them into thinking this is ok. IT IS NOT.

  24. Mark C. says

    No long winded reply. Plendl made the choice to engage in sex with this man and both took precautions. He is not HIV positive. Where can I sign up to spit in his eye?

  25. Jeff says

    Two things:

    1) Did the HIV negative individual ask him what his status was?

    2) Once he found out the partner he just had protected safe sex with was positive did he search out PEP once he found out that he had little to no exposure to HIV?

    If this negative person is engaging sex with other men he should know how to protect himself fully and not rely on the honesty of other person.

  26. say what says

    well with FDA approved OraSure coming out in october….anyone post october who doesn’t have whoever test themselves right in front of them with at least 2 tests …wait 30 minutes and then have sex ….well, post october of this year no one will ever have an excuse of not knowing if their sexual partner is positive or negative (except for the up to 6 month incubation period issue)

  27. acevedo says

    You should treat every sexual encounter with the assumption that the partner could be HIV positive and practice safe sex. I would never take anyone’s word that they are HIV negative. If you are always safe it isn’t really as much of an issue.

  28. Michael says

    As someone who does not have HIV all I can say is if you catch HIV it’s YOUR own fault, no one else. The only way I could see anyone else being in any way partially responsible is when you ask and they lie to you and say ‘no’. Even then, you must assume the person you’re hooking up with has it.

    The only thing I can suggest is if you’re that worried about catching it then put a rubber on it or stop f*cking altogether.

  29. says

    “This is insane” is the right response. Ernie and Persa have it exactly right.

    He should not be in prison.
    He should not be on a sex offender list.
    And nobody should be arguing in favor of the paranoid guy who probably should be having no sex at all.

    By the way, being a “known homosexual,” especially via a sting operation, used to get you on that sex offender list, too.

    His record should be expunged.
    The whole story is outrageous, but then there are lots of outrageous things about our current criminal justice system.

  30. Billy says

    Can’t Rhoades sue for false imprisonment!?

    “Rhoades was arrested, and charged with “criminal transmission of HIV”

    THERE WAS NO TRANSMISSION! WHAT THE HELL!!!

    I’m HIV negative and I too would have preferred to have known prior to having sex but come on, this is ridiculous. Rhoades wore a condom for Christ’s sake and there was NO transmission.

  31. Craig says

    @Tom You’re statement blatantly shows how ignorant you are about HIV and transmission; in fact is it embarrassing that your ignorance still exists in this day and age. Bottom-line, go educate yourself.

    Disclosure goes both ways yet the stigma falls on the one with HIV. The harshness of the Iowa laws need to be challenged and the plaintiff’s record needs to be expunged from his record; because if the current process continues he will have a hard time getting a job once out of jail.

    Situations like this should not continue to create the continued fear that surrounds HIV.

  32. rob says

    This person deserved jailtime. How dare you put another’s life at risk, knowing what you know about your medical health, because you want to get your rocks off. Completely would have done what Plendl did. Definitely would gave called the police and pushed for jailtime.

    Absolutely audacious that somebody would put someone through that kind of scare.

  33. Philip Wester says

    I can’t believe the people going all “If you’re legally obligated to disclose your status, people will either not get tested or lie”, as if it’s A-OK not to disclose your status as long as it’s not illegal to do so.

    Why? Because you want sex? Why is it OK for someone to GAMBLE with someone else’s life and health just because they want sex? You find yourself shunned by those without HIV/AIDS? Then go date people with HIV/AIDS.

    Also, it the burden shouldn’t be on the un-infected party. A gay man shouldn’t have to be expected to ask every single date/hook-up of their AIDS/HIV status. The burden lies on the infected party.

    Personally, I don’t walk around asking all potential sexual partners whether or not they are HIV+. And I shouldn’t have to. Why should we be expected to live in a world where gay guys are constantly forced to ask each other whether or not they’re HIV+? It’s much easier, less time consuming and more LOGICAL for the HIV+ among us to have to disclose their status. Maybe not upon introduction, but definitely prior to sexual contact is made.

    Life isn’t fair. You have AIDS/HIV and find that people are less inclined to sleep with you now? TOUGH.

    Nick Rhoades is guilty of RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT, clear and simple. There are countries and states with clear laws on this. If you have HIV/AIDS, you are LEGALLY REQUIRED to disclose your status to potential sexual partners BEFORE sex. Even in places where no such laws exist, you have a MORAL obligation to disclose your status.

    Not disclosing your status because you’re afraid the guy won’t sleep with you is SELFISH and DISRESPECTFUL.

    So, you think someone’s “right” to sex trumps someone’s right to not endanger their life and health? Condoms are not foolproof.

  34. TrueWords says

    Every gay man when hooking up should do the following:

    1. Leave the names, address and phone number of the person you are hooking up with with a close friend even if you just email it to yourself

    2. Ask if the person has an STD: herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV+, etc.

    Too many gay men are comfortable with the fact that they are gay but have MANY LAYERS of self-doubt, self-confidence and other issues when it comes to having sex. These things have to be dealt with as well as breaking down the closet door and announcing that I AM GAY…because this is only the first step.

    Also a personal note: stop watching so much damn porn!!

    Helpful things to do in your spare time:

    1. learn another language

    2. volunteer at a school or retirement home

    3. figure out as much as you can “who” you are in this moment and “who” do you want to be!!

    I am sick and tired of gay men thinking that their self awareness ends with the fact that they are comfortable enough to say: I AM GAY.

  35. Philip Wester says

    Remember, people, Rhoades chose not to disclose his status ’til AFTER sex. So he likely knew or suspected that disclosure prior to sex would’ve resulted in him not getting to have sex, yet he also felt it important enough to tell his partner afterwards, JUST IN he’d accidentally infected him!

    This was a SELFISH man looking for SELFISH sexual gratification at the potential cost of another human being’s health and life. He wanted sex. He suspected/knew he wouldn’t get it if he told his partner, so he didn’t. But he felt like his partner HAD A RIGHT TO KNOW, in case something went wrong, which is why he actually TOLD his partner… but only afterwards.

    Clear-cut case here, people.

    The punishment was far too severe, but he DESERVES to be punished (but not nearly as harshly as he’s been punished).

  36. Philip Wester says

    By the way, for the people who seem to think that Rhoades got 25 years + 5 years probation, that’s not what happened. He got 25 years. After spending a total of 9 months in jail (most of that awaiting sentencing), HIS SENTENCE WAS COMMUTED to 5 years probation.

    So, in the end, he got 9 months in jail, 5 years probation and entry into the sex offender registry. Out of that, I feel that the entry in the registry was too severe. The rest fits the crime, though.

    He had NO RIGHT to do what he did and I suspect he knew it too. After all, why would he disclose his status after the deed unless he felt like his partner had a right to know and that he had the obligation to tell him?

  37. says

    “A gay man shouldn’t have to be expected to ask every single date/hook-up of their AIDS/HIV status. The burden lies on the infected party.”

    @Philip: Yes, a gay man should be expected to ask, if he is not willing to accept the risk of having PROTECTED sex with a stranger. The burden should not lie just with “the infected party,” it should lie with both parties, and both parties failed to communicate here. Some people don’t even know their status. Neither negative nor positive people should make presumptions about the status of their partners. And if you’re to presume a stranger’s status, presume positive and assess your risk from there.

    You obviously feel passionately about this but, no, it is not a “clear-cut case here.” The truth is there was no transmission and there was no reason for Plendl to have experienced “181 days of pure fear” given the precautions that were taken. In a tidy world, Rhoades would have disclosed and Plendl would not have engaged in sex that was outside his risk comfort zone, but human sexuality is rarely tidy. This never should have been a criminal case.

  38. bravo says

    I always have used condoms for anal sexl I’ve never trusted any man who told me he was negative. Men are men–they are prone to lie to get into your pants. And it’s been 20 years since I first got laid, and I am still negative.

    After two close calls with broken condoms about seven years ago, I just decided to give up on anal sex.

    Irony: when I was 20, I thought having anal sex was liberating. Now I find that giving up anal sex is liberating.

  39. Ryan says

    Philip — regardless of the fact that his time in jail was commuted, he has a 25 year conviction on his permanent record. That’s the kiss of death in terms of being able to find a decent job.

    He’s also now listed as a sexual predator, being lumped in with rapists and child molestors. That’s an even bigger kiss of death to find a job, and even a place to live.

    He’ll have to go to every neighbor within a wide radius and inform them he — a sexual predator — is moving nearby. Do you think they’ll care about the story of why?

    He’ll also be banned from living near many public places, because he’s on that list, when he’s clearly no threat to the general public.

    These are all absurdities, not only ruining his own life, but by making it impossible for him to live a decent life, it forces everyone to pony up to pay for the public assistance he’ll now need, like medicaid, etc.

    He made a mistake — a big one — and 9 months in prison, “much of it in solitary confinement” is surely enough punishment for what he did.

  40. YoYeahYo says

    The whole stupid thinking of many people is astonishing. People who usually infect others DO NOT KNOW their status, THEREFORE, do NOT take medication –having high virus content in their blood, being more contagious- so counting in “an answer” to make a decision is utterly stupid.
    You should ALWAYS have protected sex, which is the only “answer”, the people who “trust in someone’s word or ignorance” are the perfect candidates to be infected.
    So in consequence, you would be much less at risk with someone whose bloodstream is flooded with medication –and thus undetectable virus in their fluids- that with someone who doesn’t know or who think that his “aura or good luck” is protection enough.
    That jailed guy is a scapegoat of fear and ignorance supported by an outdated legislation, he didn’t try to infect that hypochondriac stupid guy –who obviously didn’t got infected- and his only mistake was not being informed about the related social issues and the legal implications of living under the “sharia Christian laws”.
    The funnier thing is that most of the idiots claiming “I want to know beforehand” have ALREADY risked their lives having sex with people who don’t know their status, while cultivating fearful thought based on those who don’t represent a real risk because not only take medication, but use protection.
    But I guess America’s medieval religious thought has impaired many people of clear thought and knowledge.

  41. jason says

    HIV does not cause AIDS. This idea that HIV causes AIDS was put out by scientists with links to pharmaceutical companies. It’s a con designed to make money and create an industry that generates money.

  42. David says

    I think Plendl should be required to inform all future sex partners that he has pressed charges against this man, so that they too can be made aware of the legal risk they are taking by having sex with him. And if everyone who has transmitted HIV to someone else is going to have to register as a sex offender, the list will become incredibly long. Forget about medical confidentiality.

  43. says

    Since, oh, say, 1985, if you’re having sex with hookups, and you’re not protecting yourself, regardless of what the guy does or does not say about his HIV status, then you’re a fool. OK, Adam? You’re a fool.

  44. Richard says

    This is why a 34 year old should avoid hooking up with a 22 year old in the first place. They don’t have the emotional fortitude to handle certain situations like the one above, aside from the misplaced shame and guilt that might set in after the act itself that someone at that age could still experience.

    I like some of the comments stating you should assume EVERYONE that you engage in sexual activity with is HIV positive. Why wouldn’t you take precaution like this if it’s a quick hook-up with someone who doesn’t care whether you live or die quite frankly?

    Maybe I’m a foolish prude, but is it really necessary to engage in such risky behavior like having penetrative anal sex the first night you meet anyway? Has everything become so casual to us that nothing has any value or meaning anymore? This is a small reason why right-wing groups have ammunition against us as a culture when we ask for equal treatment, our poor decision making skills when it comes to impulsive sexual activity.

  45. Alfred says

    Wow this story angers me!!! The sentence angers me even more – how could the judge be so homophobic! Knowingly transmitted HIV??? He wore a condom – if he didn’t wear one, he would have knowingly transmitted HIV. He was being safe – all the safe-sex campaigns just went down the drain because of one stupid judge that didn’t even understand what a sex offender was when this poor man was already charged with transmitting HIV.

    Sometimes us human are so short-sighted and irrational. This poor man, for NOT infecting another man with HIV is being sentenced to jail, yet the Dark-Knight shooter is pleading for insanity. Are we not the ones who are insane?

    The law is really flawed. Adam contributed to himself being traumatized as he didn’t ask – he assumed the position and the risk. Now that he regretted having sex he sued the other person? Geez, I could have had many trials also.

    If this is a precedent, I hope that every HIV positive rapist will get the same treatment as this poor man.

  46. jonathan says

    Plendl is an unadulterated schmuck and professional drama queen. I hope he gets some other life threatening illness and dies. I wonder who he’ll blame then. Piece of dirt.

  47. Freddie says

    The sentence is ridiculously harsh but HIV criminalisation laws are sensible. If you are carrying a deadly infection, you should be legally required to tell the person you are about to sleep with that you have it, so they can make an informed choice.

  48. busytimmy says

    If you are engaging in a hookup/anonymous sex it’s best to assume the other person is HIV+. Also, you are way more likely to get herpes or HPV than you are HIV. Having sex with someone you just met/don’t know carries a big risk. Both parties should know that.

  49. Anon says

    In my book, for an HIV+ person to have sex with someone and not disclose their status beforehand is unconscionable and indefensible.

    That said, the consequences in this case are absurd. The judge must have relatives on the NCAA board.

  50. jason says

    I’ve never known a virus to be homophobic. Therefore, it’s not possible for a virus to specifically affect one community, such as the gay community.

  51. major707 says

    We are all responsible for our own sexual behaviors….and such you need to ask the questions. Much of you here just want to assume all is OK, stop blaming others for your poor decisions. If you engage in a sexual act and don’t ask the approiate questions you have no one to blame but themselves. If you can’t take responsibility for your own sexual health then you don’t need to be having sex.

  52. SAYTHETRUTH says

    What would it mean that someone tells you that he is not HIV? Or that he doesn’t know? Or if he doesn’t say anything? You would act differently, that is, having risky behavior BECAUSE of someone’s claim/ignorance? Why you should know if someone is HIV? Would you AVOID doing things that you would DO with people who is HIV POSSITIVE AND DIDN’T TELL YOU SO? Why would you have a different kind of sex with someone who does NOT know that with someone who knows? Wouldn’t it be WISER to always have protected sex REGARDLESS? If you are so hypochondriac, why you have sex without waiting for your sexual partner’s test after the due window gap period to be sure? Did you know that even if a person (or your partner) is negative one day, the next day he can get infected and therefore safe sex is the only way if you want to be really sure? Did you know that having a partner does not protect you from having the same risks of the average guy if your partner –or you- cheat? Did you know that having sex with a cheater that is married to a woman/man doesn’t mean he is healthy?
    People need to GROW UP. Mentally I mean. People need to take responsibility for their OWN actions instead to blaming others, in that way even if someone is ignorant about his status, you won’t be in danger.

  53. Eric says

    He should have disclosed before they had sex. But he wore a condom and had an undetectable viral load so in my opinion it is more a matter of the other guy being uneducated and having misinfpormed views of those who have HIV which caused his “issues” and that same uneducated fear mongering caused the police to arrest the guy without any evidence that he gave the other guy HIV. The law is to charge those who were decxeitful and tried to transmit HIV to the other partner. He wore a condom so obviously he was trying to not transmit his undetectable HIV viral load to the trick I am sure he wished never happened!

  54. Randy says

    “Rhoades’s attorney advised him to plead guilty to the charge”

    On principle, nobody should EVER plead guilty (or no contest or Alford) to anything. The purpose of a trial is to ensure that the government has a solid case. It’s not just for the defendant’s benefit. It’s for everyone. If a defendant pleads guilty (particularly in plea bargain) they corrupt the whole system. It’s cheaper, but then most corruption is.

    Further, if the government actually had to go to trial on every case, they would be a lot more careful about who they decide to charge. This man should never have been charged.

  55. AD says

    This guy was totally wrong for not disclosing. You absolutely have a moral and ethical responsibility to disclose. His sentence was harsh. I think he deserved 5 years in prison. The sex offender list was a bit much. I feel horrible for the man who had 6 months of his life taken from him, waiting to find out if he had been infected with a disease that would cut his life short. So sad. And the fact that there are members of the LGBT community on here defending this man is truly appalling. He is wrong, wrong, wrong. If you know you are positive you have to disclose it before having sexual relations.

  56. ratbastard says

    He has a still deadly disease that can be transmitted, even with precautions. In effect he played Russian Roulette with this 22 year old kid. I can understand completely the young man’s morbid fear as he waited for test results.

  57. says

    From the comments, it is clear that many posters don’t understand the reality and effect of HIV criminalization statutes. SeroProject.com has documented more than 1,000 instances when HIV-specific criminal charges have been filed against a person with HIV. Criminalization laws do not achieve their intended purpose–slowing transmission–and actually do the reverse, they’re a driver of the epidemic because of the extent to which they stigmatize and discourage people from testing, disclosure and accessing treatment.
    You can see more video footage about Nick’s case in the film HIV IS NOT A CRIME at seroproject (dot) com. Join us in advocating to change these statutes.

  58. Iwontgrowup says

    All of these posts are (for the most part) well thought out, However, Jeff who posted at 5:43:49 08/05/12 is 100% correct, Amen-end of story.
    Well said Jeff.

  59. TooBoot says

    The only way an HIV positive person can protect themself from this is to never disclose their status. There is no way to prove that any one person was the one who exposed you if you test positive. It just becomes hearsay otherwise.

  60. says

    While no one is innocent here and this story was written with a bias that I’m generally uncomfortable with, I find that age has softened me to see passed it for the most part. First and foremost, the onus was on Plendl to ask just as much as it was on Rhoades to disclose. If Rhoades had lied, then, I would have less sympathy for the HIV+ man and be more supportive of Plendl. Also, if the sex had been unprotected, I would be less sympathetic to Rhoades. Nine months seems awfully excessive when all is said and done. That’s a long time, people. I don’t care about Plendl’s six months of distress when this was a one-night stand that Plendl agreed to. Bottom-line. Own up.

    Ruling: punishment did not fit the crime.

  61. Contrarian says

    Why isn’t the subject of this story suing his defense lawyer for malpractice (assuming it wasn’t a public defender)? Who pleads guilty without an ironclad deal with the prosecution on the nature and length of the sentence, and the right to withdraw the plea if the judge won’t go along with the deal? Something tells me there is more to this story than Rhoades is disclosing.

    Reading comprehension fails again in America. The 25 year draconian, and likely unconstitutional sentence was modified on appeal to the nine months served. Why are you folks missing that point? The sex offender registry bit is heartland America (Iowa) at its fundie nutty worst.

  62. JoshG says

    I have never asked a random hook-up for his HIV-status. I assume that everyone is positive. For the simple reason that even someone who tested negative this morning could well carry the virus before generating the antibodies detected in most tests.

    I came of age a few years after the epidemic began when it was clear that the virus is transmitted via blood and semen. I have never had penetrative sex without a condom, even during an eleven-year committed relationship. Why? Because one of my best friends in a committed relationship sero-converted when his partner contracted the virus following a one-night stand.

    People err. They stray. They cheat. It does not make them bad people; it’s human nature.

    “Disclosure” is a nice concept but it has been evoked far too often for my taste by those who justify unsafe behavior.

    Assume everyone is positive. Assume everyone strays (and accept that it is rarely personal – we’re flawed creatures). Wear a condom.

    Making decisions on your health based on the disclosure of others is foolhardy at best.

  63. JoshG says

    I have never asked a random hook-up for his HIV-status. I assume that everyone is positive. For the simple reason that even someone who tested negative this morning could well carry the virus before generating the antibodies detected in most tests.

    I came of age a few years after the epidemic began when it was clear that the virus is transmitted via blood and semen. I have never had penetrative sex without a condom, even during an eleven-year committed relationship. Why? Because one of my best friends in a committed relationship sero-converted when his partner contracted the virus following a one-night stand.

    People err. They stray. They cheat. It does not make them bad people; it’s human nature.

    “Disclosure” is a nice concept but it has been evoked far too often for my taste by those who justify unsafe behavior.

    Assume everyone is positive. Assume everyone strays (and accept that it is rarely personal – we’re flawed creatures). Wear a condom.

    Making decisions on your health based on the disclosure of others is foolhardy at best.

  64. says

    “I feel horrible for the man who had 6 months of his life taken from him, waiting to find out if he had been infected with a disease that would cut his life short.”

    If he had 6 months of his life taken from him, he was being irrational. They had protected sex. They took precautions. There was no Russian Roulette here. The ignorance around HIV transmission and sexual responsibility on this thread is amazing. No adult who hooks up should be presuming that sexual partner is negative, and if they can’t accept the risk of having protected anal sex with a potentially positive stranger, they shouldn’t be having that kind of sex.

  65. Harold Osler says

    Did all you queens miss the fact that a condom was used. Just what the hell did that bottom think it was for?

    Sounds like a vicious queen to me. It’s waaaay past time for people like that to play uninformed about HIV

  66. Jason says

    Also all these commenters asserting that people with HIV have no duty to disclose are out of their minds. In many states, including Iowa, the crime of intentional or RECKLESS transmission includes failure to disclose. Many states therefore IMPOSE A LEGAL DUTY on people with HIV to disclose before having sex. In this case though, Rhoades went beyond simply failing to disclose because he affirmatively lied about his status.

    I absolutely agree with the victim that he should have the right to make an informed decision when it comes to not wanting to hook up with someone who has HIV and take the risk, however minute, of transmission. After all, even if one is engaging in protected sex, condoms break, etc. Not to mention the risk in oral sex (and no one wears a condom for oral sex).

  67. blonder says

    I believe the punishment is much too harsh. You have to look at the end result. The man was not infected. I am a negative male myself and always think that if I have some kind of anal that my partner is poz. I have changed my style to 95% oral only and anal maybe 1-2x a year. I also keep PEP stock whenever I feel something could be wrong. We have all been with HIV+ men knowingly or not, so to stay negative, I am responsible. I question how this man was given such a harsh punishment and makes one think that maybe he should have never stated guilty. The law is not always fair for the act committed. Look into PEP, gentlemen. I never leave home without it and plan to stay neg. There is more to sex than anal as well.

  68. SpotOn says

    Laws requiring people to disclose their status could only work with those who already know it. So it doesn’t work in the end, not knowing is not an excuse to have risky sex.
    By the way it is true what they said: people with undetectable virus count pose practically no risk compared to those who do not know –and will claim that they are not HIV positive therefore- and that have the virus growing up in numbers, so the law is stupid. The only thing that the law should require is to have safe sex so to not expose anyone –some HIV people have difficulty in lowering their viral charge, others keep on infecting themselves with different virus strains due to keeping their risky behaviors- but the burden is shared anyways.
    I agree that some people –due to whatever ignorance, trauma, etcetera they have- feel safer thinking that their sexual partners are not HIV + and adopt the deluded thought of “I rather know” so to avoid what they usually don’t avoid with others with the same or worse risk of infection. Those are first in line to make bad decisions. You should only trust in safe sex.

  69. Brian says

    This seems like a case of guilty until proven rich. A better lawyer would have helped, but honestly, what does society gain from imprisoning an innocent man who made a mistake?

    I’m negative, but if I were positive I’d imagine that telling a person would be extremely hard. The man wore a condom, took his meds, and had sex with the wrong person. This is quite the sad story.

  70. Lee says

    Good people like this should be jailed we negative people need to know whose infected before we sleep wit them I can’t tell you how many people I know have been lied to by positive people and then became positive themselves this laws is the lead the government can do and personally hunk more should be done.

  71. Mike says

    Most people are ignorant of the law… It’s kind of like a robbery victim, attacked at gun point, who critically injures his attacker,then ends up in prison because he did not know it was “against the law” to throw a brick at the robbers head. Nick wore a condom…so he probably thought he was looking out for the other person.

    It’s up to everyone to protect themselves from HIV…the other person could always be lying about their status,ignorant,drunk and forgetful, or recently infected…

  72. david says

    Not disclosing HIV+ status BEFORE having sex is despicable and should be criminal. Not 25 years in prison / sex offender criminal, more like suspended sentence (which you serve the whole thing if you do it again), major fine, and community service criminal.

  73. Jake says

    “Disclosure goes both ways yet the stigma falls on the one with HIV.”

    Because the person with HIV knows they have it! If you have HIV it is your obligation to tell your sexual partners. If you fail to do so you are risking somebody’s life without their knowledge. You can argue that everybody should ask their partners status before they have sex, but if you have HIV and you purposely with hold this information you are denying your partner the opportunity to make an informed decision.

    Why would you with hold the information? To ensure you get your rocks off and don’t get rejected? This is no an excuse to toy with someone’s life. Everybody should wear protection regardless but fear of HIV in the gay community would be significantly reduced if men with HIV took responsibility for their actions. It is morally wrong not to tell a partner if you are HIV positive. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime but I think what this man did was a crime.

  74. ratbastard says

    I read the article and am aware he used a condom. Accidents still happen.

    He is 34 and HIV+ banging a 22 year old ‘hook up’. He OF COURSE should have informed the kid he was HIV+, and the kid should have inquired. But it’s criminal [literally] for an HIV+ person not to inform their ‘hook ups’, and rightfully so.

    Yes, 25 years was a stiff sentence. I’d also question my defense attorney.

  75. Steve says

    It seems to me the take-away from this story is don’t get tested, that way you can plausibly say that you are negative. If you know you are positive and lie about it you could conceivably still get in trouble, so in this situation ignorance is bliss.

    This outcome could not possibly be in the interest of public health. People should be getting tested on a regular basis and not have to worry about being jailed and turned into a sex offender because they happen to hook up with an immature paranoid a**hole.

    Both parties share equal responsibility for disclosure and inquiry when having sex.

  76. jamal49 says

    Somebody ought to track down Adam Plendl and beat the living sh*t out of him.

    Nick Rhoades is the victim here: the victim of an extremely homophobic law intended to punish anyone for simply being gay. The alleged “criminal transmission of HIV” charge against Rhoades and the life sentence imposed upon him when there was NO transmission of HIV at all is stunning in its cruelty.

    It should frighten every gay man in Iowa because all it would take is one accusation. Obviously, it would not matter if HIV or its transmission was involved or not. The Iowa law and its consequences allow for not just prosecution but persecution of every gay man.

    It’s heinous.

  77. theotherlee says

    Wow… so much anger in this thread.

    Personal experience story, so.. bear with me, please.

    I was infected with HIV when I was 19, in the fall of ’92. My first boyfriend after my infection was in November of ’93. He was also HIV+.

    He was given his diagnosis after developing diabetes, and going into a diabetic coma. He was almost “destroyed” coming out of that coma to be told, not only.. “Hey, sorry you have diabetes…” but also that he was HIV+. Now, years after that was when he and I got together, and we had a discussion about it.

    I’d asked him if he ever got tested, and he told me that he never did, because “he didn’t want to know” whether he was positive or not. I asked him about using condoms (because we didn’t) and he again told me he didn’t use condoms. This floored me. I do not understand how anyone could be that careless. To me, that’s verging on homicidal. I even asked him how many people he may have infected… he had no idea. There are people out there like this.

    Ever since my diagnosis I have told each and every partner I’ve had my status. Did I get refused for dates? Yep. I sure did. Did it “hurt” my feelings? Absolutely, it did. Do I have any concerns, whatsoever, that I’ve infected anyone else in my 20 years of being positive. Nope, not a chance.

    If you are poz, you should be completely honest with a potential sexual partner. They have the right to know… even if it’s for *safer* sex.

    If you are negative, you need to ASK the damn question if your partner doesn’t volunteer the info! AND THEN.. you make sure that condoms are used… period.

    Both of these guys were in the wrong. But there is no excuse for Nick Rhoades to not inform BEFORE sex that he is HIV positive, even with a undetectable viral load.

    I do feel bad for the severity of the punishment. But, I can’t look past the fact that had he told Plendl before… he wouldn’t have been arrested or tried in the first place.

  78. Sam Molloy says

    These laws were written before it was discovered how low risk Undetectable people are. In fact, a Scandinavian country has decriminalized failing to disclose for Undetectable people. That said, a person could have a Viral Load spike since their last test. Also, you may want to have a LTR with that “trick” and telling them later would destroy any chance of that.

  79. ty says

    The comments show how paranoid the gay community is in regards to HIV. More people would have it if it was easy to catch…Best to lie and say your are negative than risk rejection like in these posts… scary!

  80. nefter says

    It is Absolutely unforgivable for a man that is HIV+ to knowingly have sex with someone and NOT tell them until after. You people that have “experience” with this can rationalize all you want but it is simply NOT cool. Even though the victim did not contract HIV he is still a victim. Period. Oh he didn’t ask so it would be his fault if the condom broke right? Oh and those meds are not exactly cheap so unless your in the right area with the right contacts your still pretty much F****d.

  81. nefter says

    @ Ty, have you ever watched a friend die of AIDS? I’m only 38 and I have…TWICE. Best to lie??? just to have sex? that is a vile and loathsome thing to say.

    @ theotherlee Thank you for sharing and big big hug :)

  82. theotherlee says

    The comments show how paranoid the gay community is in regards to HIV. More people would have it if it was easy to catch…Best to lie and say your are negative than risk rejection like in these posts… scary!

    Posted by: ty | Aug 6, 2012 1:57:13 PM

    ——————————————-

    “More people would have it if it was easy to catch…”

    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/us.htm

    “CDC estimates 1.2 million people in the United States (U.S.) are living with HIV infection. One in five (20%) of those people are unaware of their infection. Despite increases in the total number of people in the U.S. living with HIV infection in recent years (due to better testing and treatment options), the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. However, new infections continue at far too high of a level, with approximately 50,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year.

    In 2010, an estimated 47,129 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in the 46 states with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting since at least January 2007. In that same year, an estimated 33,015 people throughout the U.S. were diagnosed with AIDS. Since the epidemic began, an estimated 1,129,127 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with AIDS.

    An estimated 17,774 people with AIDS died in 2009, and nearly 619,400 people with AIDS in the U.S. have died since the epidemic began.”

    Yeah, just what we need.. More people to be infected.

    “Best to lie and say your are negative than risk rejection like in these posts… scary!”

    You’re absolutely right that it’s scary… but the scary part is you suggesting that people lie about their status so they can get laid… consequences be damned.

  83. theotherlee says

    Damn, forgot to add..

    “CDC estimates 1.2 million people in the United States (U.S.) are living with HIV infection. One in five (20%) of those people are unaware of their infection.”

    That’s 240,000 people.. wandering around, dipping their wick in whomever they come across with no knowledge of what they are doing. You really think it’s best to think there’s nothing to worry about? You think the people here are too “paranoid” .. you are either young.. or just not very bright.

  84. PDX Guy says

    After reading these comments, it is easy to see why HIV infections are trending back up. There are 2 answers to HIV status: Yes, and I Don’t Know. People who can answer Yes are morally obligated to inform their sex partners, so they can make an informed decision. I don’t care how many condoms or other forms of protection are used.

  85. GregV says

    The lack of compassion in some of the posts both here and on CNN’s website is disheartening.
    This kond of outrageous sentence — for “transmitting HIV” when no Virus was transmitted — does nothing to protect the public.

    If someone who KNOWS he is HIV positive is a criminal for not disclosing, then why is not everyone who DOESN’T know for sure not a criminal for not disclosing their own sexual histories?
    I had a friend whose brother died of AIDS, and her rule pf thumb was to never have sex with anyone until both parties have NOT ONLY been tested but have also then been sexually inactive AFTER the test for six months.
    And what if Plendl goes out tomorrow and asks a new sexual partner “are you HIV positive?” and the new partner says, “Well, I’ve never been tested, so let’s assume I’m not.”. Will he feel safe?
    What if the answer is, “Well, I got tested four months ago and I was negative then, so i would like to assume I’m negative now.”. Will THAT person also be held criminally responsible by Plendl if Plendl doesn’t ask follow up questions like “have you been sexually abstinent since then?”

    And why is HIV apparently in a category all by itself? Anyone who has ever had a cold sore is a lifelong carrier of the herpes virus, and anyone who has contracted HPV (by the end of thos sentence, I’ve included most of the US population) could contribute to a partner’s eventual death by cervical or anal cancer. Why has no one (let alone the majority of the US population) been put in solitary confinement for not exposing their own detailed viral and sexual history before every sexual encounter.
    I am inclined to believe it has something to do with honophobia and the connection in the public mind between gay men and HIV.

    I’ve never gone home with a stranger and had ansl sex with him, with or without the dubious protection of a condom. If I were to doso and contracted HIV or HPV or herpes or anything elae, I certainly would not think that none of the responsibility falls on my own shoulders.

    Plendl was not a child and should have protected HIMSELF.

  86. anon says

    There is thing called an “appeal”, though pleading guilty is a bad idea in most cases if you need to appeal. I guess he can claim bad attorney advice.

  87. toyotabedzrock says

    The HIV Community needs to be more respectful of others choices.

    I have a young friend who is being lead around by his cock by an HIV+ twink porn star, and he is too young to understand how stupid he is being.

    I would have called the police too.

    That said, this punishment is insane, and should not put someone on the sex offenders list. And the bail and sentence is equally insane and deserves condemnation.

  88. Andy says

    Amazing that in 2012 we’re still treating people with HIV like lepers and demonizing them with insincere claims that that we want to remain negative. If Plendl had any serious interest in remaining negative HE WOULDN’T BE BOTTOMING FOR STRANGERS HE MEETS ON THE INTERNET!

    This is not the story of a sad victim of “nondisclosure”. This is the story of a spoiled brat who has no concept of the risk he has put himself in, and has decided to destroy another human being for almost making him aware of it. Plendl is disgusting and subhuman. That he is unrepentant about what he has done, and confuses his online debauchery with true victims of nondisclosure makes me furious and ashamed.

  89. says

    Nick Rhoades is still out, huh? I haven’t heard otherwise. His case is going to the Supreme Court! Too bad he’s going to lose based on some lame defense about being a poor sick gay man who just CAN’T go to jail. Another Iowan, Tom Call, is free because he used OMSJ, a California investigative agency, to provide expert witnesses against the “HIV test.” See http://www.omsj.org/innocence-group. Do a search there for Letterhead Project, to see what’s possible even if you’re not facing charges. You can get your name off the database.

  90. GOD says

    It’s simple: since too many people would lie in a situation like this (just read some of the comments above!), the law should be in place to ensure people think twice before deceiving their partner by withholding such important information and thereby depriving them of their choice to decide whether they can take the risk or not.

Leave A Reply