Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga) is sponsoring legislation that would make it a violent felony assault for HIV-infected sexual predators to knowingly transmit the disease to their victims – or to engage in behavior reasonably likely to transmit the disease (A.9359).
Gabryszak said he’s fighting for the bill to crack down on individuals who are fully aware of their HIV-positive status and engage in sexual acts without consent from their partners who lack that vital information.
“This legislation is not intended to punish individuals who are HIV-positive, but rebuke those individuals who know they are infected with HIV and seek to put others at risk,” Gabryszak said. “We need to establish these heinous acts as felony crimes to punish these criminals more severely and to deter would-be offenders.”
Gabryzsak said one example of a criminal who wasn’t punished severely enough is convicted sexual predator Nushawn Williams, who in 1998 pleaded guilty to three counts of infecting women with HIV. Williams is now slated for possible release, even though he knowingly infected at least 13 young women, and possibly as many as 50 in the Buffalo area.
The bill creates two new crimes, including:
- a class B violent felony – punishable by up to 25 years in prison – when a person who knows they are HIV-positive engages in reckless sexual behavior with an unsuspecting partner who ends up acquiring HIV; and
- a class D violent felony – punishable by a sentence of up to 7 years – even if the behavior does not result in the transmission of HIV.
“When an person infected with HIV knowingly engages in sexual conduct with a partner without informing them of their status, it’s tantamount to firing a gun into a crowded room,” Gabryszak said. “This incredibly reckless behavior is reprehensible and criminal, and should be punished accordingly.”