Two South Dakotans Sentenced for Intentionally Exposing Others to HIV
Two South Dakotans this week were sentenced to jail time for intentionally exposing others to HIV, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports (Williams, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 3/26). Brown County Circuit Court Judge Eugene Dobberpuhl on Tuesday sentenced William Jenigen, 36, to 45 days in jail and five years of probation for engaging in sexual acts without disclosing his HIV status to his partners (Richardson, Aberdeen American News, 3/26). Jenigen, who was charged with six counts of "intentionally exposing unknowing partners to HIV," was originally scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 16, 2002, but the trial date was pushed back to allow prosecutors and defense attorneys more time to prepare for the case. Under South Dakota law, each count of intentional HIV exposure carries a felony charge punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/26/02). In February, Jenigan filed an "Alford plea" in which a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees that a judge or jury "could convict him based on the evidence in the case," and the state dropped five counts against him in exchange for the plea (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 3/27). Dobberpuhl said, "I must sentence you not for what you did, but what you didn't do. That is not informing your partners that you are HIV positive." Jay Woods, 42, Jenigan's roommate and partner, has been charged with three counts of intentionally exposing others to HIV. A jury trial had been scheduled for mid-March, but it was cancelled, and a new date has not been set (Aberdeen American News, 3/26). In another case, Nichole White Bear Claws, 30, two weeks ago pled guilty to one count of potentially exposing others to HIV, and authorities dropped a second count in exchange for that plea. She was sentenced on Monday to three months in jail and five years of probation (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 3/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.