Judge Sentences Two San Francisco Men in Case Involving Harassing Phone Calls Over AIDS, Syphilis Campaigns
A San Francisco judge last week sentenced two men to three years' probation and mandatory mental health counseling for allegedly making harassing phone calls to San Francisco health officials and newspaper reporters in response to city-sponsored AIDS and syphilis campaigns, the Los Angeles Times reports. Michael Petrelis pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges, and David Pasquarelli pleaded no contest to three misdemeanors. Visiting Superior Court Judge Raymond Arata also issued restraining orders that prohibit contact between Petrelis and Pasquarelli and the recipients of the phone calls, including a press officer for the University of California-San Francisco's AIDS Research Institute and Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of sexually transmitted disease control for the San Francisco Department of Public Health (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/2). Petrelis and Pasquarelli, who both have been diagnosed with AIDS, said that they agreed to plead no contest in order to end legal proceedings because of their ailing health, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 8/3). Assistant District Attorney Michon Martin said that prosecutors agreed to end the case because the two men agreed to "accept some responsibility for their actions" and agreed to the restraining order, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 8/2).
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 2002, Judge Parker Meeks released the men on a combined $220,000 bond and forbade them from going within 150 yards of the UCSF AIDS Health Project. Pasquarelli -- a member of ACT UP/San Francisco, which is not affiliated with the national ACT UP organization -- 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 shares its belief that federal AIDS funds are being "misspent on frightening, sexually graphic prevention efforts." In May 2002, Judge Kent Grunewald dismissed 27 misdemeanor and felony charges against the men relating to their conduct toward employees of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Department of Public Health, but the district attorney refiled the charges (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/7/02).