Steven Gauthier was convicted in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster on Feb. 5, 2020 of aggravated sexual assault for having sex with a woman while HIV positive and not informing her of his infection. (Facebook)

B.C. man convicted after failing to disclose HIV-positive status to partner

Steven Gauthier convicted in BC Supreme Court after he did not disclose status to sexual partner

A Chilliwack man was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in BC Supreme Court on Wednesday for repeatedly having sex with a woman while infected with HIV without her knowing about his HIV status.

Steven Stewart Gauthier was convicted by Justice Martha Devlin in New Westminster of one count of aggravated sexual assault under section 273 of the Criminal Code. Aggravated sexual assault is defined as sexual assault that “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.”

Consensual sex with a person who does not disclose their HIV status meets the test of endangering the life of the complainant, and the consent is vitiated – rendered legally invalid – because of the non-disclosure.

The now 58-year-old Gauthier was in a relationship with R.G., the complainant who cannot be named due to a publication ban. Starting in late summer 2016, the two began engaging in sexual activity, according to evidence presented in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster by Crown counsel John Lester.

R.G. was tested for HIV in November of 2016 and was negative. She was then certified under the Mental Health Act in late January 2017 for about a month. It was early in that stay at an institution that a blood test was done, and she was deemed to be HIV positive.

Crown called numerous doctors as witnesses, some who explained the way HIV is transmitted and when it is detected in a test after transmission.

There were also allegations by R.G. that the sex itself did get physically rougher and rougher leading to further charges of sexual assault and assault, but Gauthier was acquitted of those charges because of the credibility of the complainant’s testimony due to her mental state.

Gauthier argued that R.G. was aware of his HIV status, but he was not deemed credible, at least in part because when the victim found out she too was HIV positive, she thought it was a death sentence.

Lester said, and the court accepted, that this was not the response of someone who was consensually having sex with an HIV-positive person.

Contracting HIV in such a case is not even necessary for a conviction of aggravated sexual assault, rather a “realistic possibility” of transmission is enough.

An oft-cited case of R v Mabior from the Supreme Court of Canada involved a man who had sex with nine complainants while HIV positive and while failing to disclose. In convincing Mabior, the court revisited a test from a 1989 decision, R v Cuerrier that found “A person may be found guilty of aggravated sexual assault under sec. 273 of the Criminal Code if he fails to disclose HIV-positive status before intercourse and there is a realistic possibility that HIV will be transmitted.”

Justice Devlin convicted Gauthier in court on Feb. 5, 2020. He remains out of custody, and a sentencing date is set for April 3 in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster.

The case calls to mind that of former Chilliwack and Abbotsford resident Brian Carlisle who was charged with aggravated sexual assault in a dozen cases for having sex with women while HIV-positive.

In 2018 all charges against Carlisle were dropped, and last August he filed a lawsuit against the province of B.C. and 10 members of the Mission RCMP.

• READ MORE: B.C. man facing nine more aggravated sexual assault charges: Mission RCMP

• READ MORE: Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Gauthier was in the news already this week as the owner of a dog accused of attacking multiple people in the Columbia Valley.

• READ MORE: Chililwack neighbourhood terrified after dog attacks at least seven people


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some Red Deer preschools won’t open for the remainder of school year

Short notice from provincial government one of the reasons

Hundreds of goldfish were removed from Red Deer storm pond

Water samples will now be studied from other ponds, including West Park’s

Manslaughter charge stayed against Red Deer County woman accused of shooting husband

Robin Berresford was facing manslaughter with a firearm charge for February 2019 shooting

Woman awaits response from RCMP about racism

We, as Red Deer, need to say something”

Solidarity together: Central Albertans protest in Red Deer against racism

There’s no such thing as a little bit of racism. Even one… Continue reading

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Central Alberta playgrounds receive funding boost from Alberta Education

A pair of local playgrounds are among a group of projects that… Continue reading

FIFA signals support for in-game Floyd solidarity messages

FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and… Continue reading

Live horse racing set to officially return this weekend for Woodbine

TORONTO — Woodbine Entertainment made the announcement Monday that it will resume… Continue reading

‘Welcome Back!’ Several famed museums reopen across Europe

AMSTERDAM — In the Netherlands, the intimate gaze of the Girl with… Continue reading

Music industry calls for Black Out Tuesday amid unrest

NEW YORK — The music industry is planning to turn off the… Continue reading

Trudeau promises to speed $2.2 billion in funding for strapped cities

Trudeau promises to speed $2.2 billion in funding for strapped cities

Trudeau rejects Trump suggestion to readmit Russia to G7, citing Crimea invasion

Trudeau rejects Trump suggestion to readmit Russia to G7, citing Crimea invasion

Most Read