Appeal court overturns sex assault convictions of HIV-positive man

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s highest court has overturned the sexual assault convictions of an HIV-positive former boxer who slept with two women, saying their consent wasn’t diminished by the man not disclosing his condition.

Claude Thompson was found guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm of two women in Antigonish, N.S., and sentenced to 30 months in jail.

In a written ruling released Thursday, the Appeal Court of Nova Scotia acquitted him.

“The sole issue in this case is whether psychological harm said to have been caused by non-disclosure of HIV status vitiates consent to sexual activity. The short answer is no, it does not,” Justice Duncan Beveridge wrote for the three-judge panel.

The appeal court quoted one expert who said HIV is no longer lethal, and another who said it’s now much easier to manage than diabetes.

“Failure by a sexual partner to disclose that he or she has a sexually transmitted disease is morally reprehensible, but it is not usually a crime. Most STDs can be cured with appropriate treatment or do not constitute a serious health threat,” wrote Beveridge.

The appeal attracted national interest: HIV/AIDS groups from Ontario and Quebec, as well as the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, had intervener status.

The appeal court said the groups backed Thompson’s claim of legal error, “and fear the potential implications of the trial judge’s ruling on people living with HIV.”

The case dates back to December 2011. Thompson, who had moved to Antigonish from Ontario, had testified that he told both women he had HIV and used a condom, but the trial judge, Justice Suzanne Hood, wasn’t convinced.

Still, she found that HIV transmission was unlikely because of the specific circumstances of the two cases, and neither woman did contract HIV.

Hood acquitted Thompson of the more serious charges of aggravated sexual assault.

But she found the women had suffered psychological harm from not knowing whether the virus had been transmitted, which amounted to bodily harm and, coupled with his deception, ultimately “vitiated” their consent. She convicted him of the lesser charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm.

But the appeal court disagreed.

“Stress from being lied to, however despicable the deception may be, is simply not sufficient to vitiate consent for the purposes of the criminal law,” Beveridge wrote.

“Worry, stress, anger are natural emotions on learning of unwittingly being exposed to HIV. But absent a significant risk of serious bodily harm, satisfied by actual transmission or a realistic possibility of transmission, consent is not vitiated.”

The appeal panel’s decision Thursday details the reasons for its Sept. 19, 2017, ruling it acknowledged was ”unusual.” That ruling quashed the charges after the Crown had conceded five days earlier that the judge had erred and Thompson should be acquitted.

Just Posted

Central Alberta school divisions to support rural students through agreement

Wolf Creek to bring Enhanced Learning Model courses to Clearview schools

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Manslaughter charge stayed against Maskwacis man

Man was accused of manslaughter in connection with the death of his mother in 2015

Red Deer Mounties make numerous arrests over the past two weeks

Over the past two weeks, Red Deer RCMP have made a number… Continue reading

Leslieville Elks’ new hall rising from the ashes

Leslieville Elks Lodge grateful for outpouring of support

WATCH: Red Deer Catholic students re-envision a local wetland for school project

Father Henri Voisin Grade 3 teacher introduces ‘real-life’-based education

Charges dropped against Alberta property owner in rural shooting

OKOTOKS, Alta. — All charges have been dropped against a man accused… Continue reading

China blocks John Oliver on social media after scathing show

BEIJING — A popular Chinese social media site is censoring discussion of… Continue reading

Most Red Deer Advocate readers would call police when witnessing a crime

An overwhelming number of Advocate readers would call the police if they… Continue reading

So much TV, so little summer: Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Dr. Pol

LOS ANGELES — The fall television season is months away but that’s… Continue reading

BlackBerry Q1 revenue, adjusted earnings beat estimates but stock falls

TORONTO — BlackBerry Ltd. shares sank almost 10 per cent to their… Continue reading

OPEC countries to pump more oil to contain price increase

VIENNA — The countries of the OPEC cartel agreed on Friday to… Continue reading

Man sentenced for Edson triple murder

EDMONTON — An Alberta man who fatally shot three people has been… Continue reading

‘Hot Dog Water’ seller in Vancouver gets laughs, sales with savvy marketing

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver man who sold bottles of “Hot Dog Water”… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month