Woman Sues Columbus, Ohio, Officials for Failing to ‘Enforce a Quarantine’ on HIV-Positive Officer
A woman who has admitted to having unprotected, consensual sex with a Columbus, Ohio, police officer but claims she did not know at the time that he was HIV-positive is suing the man, the police department and the city for failing to "enforce a quarantine" on the officer, thereby endangering public health, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Jane Burris testified at Officer Richard Thorpe's criminal trial in November that the two had engaged in consensual, unprotected sex several times, including while Thorpe was on duty, after meeting in 1998. However, Burris said that she was unaware at the time that Thorpe had HIV and learned of his positive status in the spring of 2000 from his live-in girlfriend. According to his attorney, Thorpe was infected with HIV on the job in 1999 after a drug user bit him. Thorpe said he learned that he had HIV in August 1999. He said he then informed Burris of his condition and the two used condoms. Her lawsuit, filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, states that the police department knew of Thorpe's HIV status and was aware that the couple was having sex while Thorpe was on duty. The lawsuit says that the city and the department "had a duty to 'enforce a quarantine'" on Thorpe, but instead "recklessly allowed him to endanger citizens, including Burris, by failing to properly supervise, discipline and monitor" him. The 12 counts against Thorpe for "spreading contagion," a first-degree misdemeanor, were dismissed last fall because of a mistrial after Burris disclosed on the witness stand that Thorpe had failed three polygraph tests. A new criminal trial is scheduled to begin on April 25, and the police department has not taken any disciplinary action against Thorpe (Doulin, Columbus Dispatch, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.