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Sailor’s Conviction for Sexual Assault for HIV-Positive Sex Upheld

court of appeals

In its recent decision in United States v. Forbes, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces upheld a HIV-positive sailor’s conviction for sexual assault after he had unprotected sex with four women. The Petty Officer tested positive for HIV in 2012 and was instructed to inform any future sexual partners of his status. Despite this instruction, between 2013 and 2015 the Petty Officer engaged in unprotected sex with four women without telling them that he was HIV-positive.

The Petty Officer was charged with, among other offenses, sexual assault by bodily harm under Article 120(b)(1)(B). Article 120(b)(1)(B) states that a person who commits a sexual act upon another person by causing bodily harm to that other person is guilty of sexual assault. Petty Officer Forbes pled guilty to three specifications of sexual assault but then on appeal said that he was not properly found guilty because the sexual acts were not caused by his HIV status.

The CAAF rejected Petty Officer Forbes’ claim. In its opinion, the Court noted that the definition of bodily harm includes nonconsensual sexual acts. Although the women with whom Petty Officer Forbes had sex had consented, they had done so without knowing of his HIV status. Without this knowledge, the women were unable to give informed consent. This lack of knowledge made the acts nonconsensual and the Court determined that Petty Officer Forbes was properly found guilty of sexual assault.

If you or your loved one is facing a court-martial or wants to appeal a court-martial conviction, you need someone with experience who knows the law. I have the experience you need. Please contact Bill Cassara today for a free consultation.

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