Details scarce in arrest of Bluffton man accused of exposing others to HIV

astice@islandpacket.comMarch 20, 2012 

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A man accused by two other men of concealing that he was HIV-positive when he had sexual contact with them in 2008 has been charged by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office for exposing them to the virus.

The suspect was arrested Monday and posted $10,000 bond to be released from the Beaufort County Detention Center later that day.

The circumstances of his arrest, years after he allegedly exposed others to HIV, are not all clear. Authorities have declined to answer questions about the case, including providing proof that the man is actually HIV-positive, citing medical privacy laws.Both victims told Sheriff's Office investigators in October 2008 about encounters that allegedly occurred in June of that year in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island, according to an incident report.

The victims said that the man, a former Marine, lied to them about being "clean" and only acknowledged after sexual contact that he was HIV-positive.

Both victims said they later tested negative for the virus and continued to receive testing, according to the report.

According to South Carolina law, it's a felony to expose others to HIV by engaging in sexual contact without first notifying a partner of the infection. If convicted, the offense is punishable by a fine of no more than $5,000 or imprisonment of no more than 10 years.

The report indicates investigators had a difficult time obtaining the man's medical information because of medical privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Warrants were obtained for the man in February of 2009. Attempts to make contact with him afterward determined that he had moved out of state.

Sgt. Robin McIntosh declined to answer questions about the circumstances of the man's arrest, citing medical privacy laws.

The 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor's Office received the case Tuesday and is reviewing the evidence, according to spokesman Daniel Brownstein.

Brownstein said the case likely would go before a grand jury, which would decide if there is enough evidence for an indictment.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/LCBlotter.

Related content:

South Carolina Code of Laws SECTION 44-29-145. Penalty for exposing others to Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

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