San Francisco Judge Drops Charges Against Petrelis and Pasquarelli on Procedural Violation
A San Francisco judge has dismissed 27 misdemeanor and felony counts against San Francisco activists Michael Petrelis and David Pasquarelli because of procedural violations, the San Francisco Examiner reports (Pampalone, San Francisco Examiner, 5/3). Pasquarelli is a member of ACT UP/San Francisco, which is not affiliated with the national ACT UP organization and argues that "HIV is harmless, that AIDS is a myth and that unprotected sex is everyone's birthright." Petrelis, who is not a member of ACT UP/San Francisco, does not agree with all of the organization's views, but he shares its belief that federal AIDS funds are being "misspent on frightening, sexually graphic prevention efforts." Pasquarelli and Petrelis were arrested on Nov. 28, 2001, on charges of harassment, stalking and making criminal threats against public health officials, AIDS researchers and newspaper reporters. In February, Judge Parker Meeks released the men on a combined $220,000 bond and forbade them from going within 150 yards of the University of California-San Francisco AIDS Health Project (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/13). Judge Kent Grunewald dismissed all of the charges against the men relating to their conduct toward employees of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, but Pasquarelli still faces two felony and three misdemeanor charges for his actions toward the UCSF employees. The charges against the two men were dismissed because of court overcrowding and because Meeks was reassigned to another trial, which violated procedure and delayed the case while the defendants were in jail, according to Mark Vermeulen, Pasquarelli's attorney. The district attorney has refiled the charges and the case will be held in court at a later date (San Francisco Examiner, 5/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.