HIV exposure case

US airman convicted in HIV exposure case

A promiscuous US Air Force sergeant has been convicted of exposing multiple unwitting sex partners to HIV at swinger parties.

A court martial judge found Tech Sgt David Gutierrez guilty on seven of eight counts of aggravated assault and violating his commander's order to notify partners about his HIV status and use condoms.

The judge also convicted Gutierrez of indecent acts, having sex in front of others, and eight counts of adultery.

Several people who participated in swinger and partner-swapping events with Gutierrez and his wife testified this week that they never would have had sex with him had he told them he was HIV-positive.

Under military law, Gutierrez could face more than 50 years in prison. Other penalties include a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and reduction in rank. His sentencing hearing was to begin immediately after the verdicts were announced.

Gutierrez repeatedly denied he was infected and he was encouraged by his wife to carry on with swinger events, several witnesses testified during the first day of the airman's court martial at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. The witnesses said they never would have had sex with the man had he told them he was HIV-positive.

"I watched a brother die of AIDS. It wouldn't have happened," a Topeka woman testified yesterday about her decision to have unprotected sex with Gutierrez on multiple occasions. She said she had asked him whether he had any sexually transmitted diseases and he assured her he "was clean".

The Associated Press is not naming the airman's sexual partners because they are alleged victims of a sexually-based crime.

Gutierrez originally was charged with 10 counts of aggravated assault and with violating his squadron commander's order to notify partners about his HIV status and use condoms. The judge granted a prosecution request to drop two of the assault charges today.

The Topeka woman was one of several witnesses to testify that Gutierrez's wife also was an active swinger and at times set up partner swaps.

"She was talking about opening a bed-and-breakfast for swingers," the woman said. "She was all for it."

During opening statements, defence lawyer Capt Aaron Mannes had asked the judge to note the conduct of Gutierriez's wife when considering the adultery charges. When it came time to cross examine the prosecution witnesses, defence lawyers emphasised that none of them had been infected with HIV and that during many of the encounters they described, Gutierrez either used a condom or did not ejaculate.

Yesterday, a Wichita man who said he participated in swinger events with the couple also testified that Gutierrez flatly denied being HIV positive.

"What he did was wrong," the man said.

A Wichita woman testified that she and her partner met Gutierrez on an adult website and later had dinner at his house, where she said the airman's wife asked the couple, "Do you want to have dessert or do you want to play?"

Gutierrez's wife is not in the military and has not been charged with any crime.

(Published by The Australian - January 20, 2011)

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