By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
According to an April 18 police report, Sarah had consensual sex with Kersaint but claimed to have been sexually assaulted by his roommates. She left the apartment, went to a rape crisis center, and then hooked up with Kersaint again the next day. They had sex a couple more times; once, according to Kersaint, the condom broke.
Miami Beach Police became involved after officials at the rape crisis center called about the possible sexual battery. As cops were investigating the case, Kersaint called Sarah's cell phone and left a voicemail message saying she needed to speak with a doctor about "something very important." Sarah, naturally, was alarmed and told police about the message.
When Miami Beach Sgt. Jed Burger contacted Kersaint, the promoter said he had HIV — but had not informed Sarah before sex. "He told us he knew it was a crime, that his doctor told him that," Burger would later say in a deposition. "He was very worried. He was — he was really concerned, and I didn't know who he was concerned for, himself or for her.
"But the guy seemed distraught. He was, he was physically, I could see him in distress. He was extremely concerned that we would not tell anybody about his status, that it would ruin him in the industry."
Police eventually dropped the sexual battery investigation and charged Kersaint in April 2007 with criminal transmission of HIV. The day after his court arraignment, he called Sarah.
"He said he went to court and that he was going to go kill himself," Sarah said in a January 2008 deposition. "And he wrote me back like two days later, oh, I didn't kill myself. I love you, I love you, I love you."
Replied the woman: "No."
The third and most recent case, involving Miguel Barrie, happened in St. Lucie County. According to police, Barrie met a woman on a yacht last year and then traveled to her St. Lucie condo, where they had sex over the course of a month or two. According to the Stuart News, Barrie "joked" about being HIV positive after their first encounter, but then said he was "only joking" about the, uh, joking.
Florida is one of several states that consider criminal transmission of HIV a felony. Some states consider the crime a misdemeanor, while others take into account the HIV-positive person's condom use. Florida has one of the harshest penalties for criminal transmission of HIV but rarely employs the law. According to a January 2007 article on Nerve.com, the law was enforced nationally only 316 times between 1986 and 2001 — with some offenders being sentenced to lifelong jail terms, harsher than if they had committed murder.
Ross's attorney, Coyle, says the law is applied selectively. For instance, if you are an HIV-positive drug user, there's no law that requires you to disclose that fact before you share a dirty needle. And breastfeeding mothers aren't charged for transmitting the disease to their babies.
A court — or maybe the state legislature — will have to decide the validity of Coyle's claim.
In any case, casual-sex seekers would do well to heed the advice of Charles Martin, director of the South Beach AIDS Project: "If you're not in a monogamous relationship, treat your partner like they're HIV positive. And they should treat you like you're positive also."