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50-Year Sentence in Iowa HIV Criminalization Case Upheld by Federal Judge

By Kellee Terrell

April 18, 2012

A federal judge upheld a 50-year sentence for Adam Musser, an Iowa man living with HIV who was found guilty of having unprotected sex with several female partners.

The Associated Press reported:

Musser was convicted on four counts of criminally transmitting HIV for failing to disclose to female sexual partners in 2002 and 2003 that he carried HIV. Musser had been diagnosed with HIV and was taking medication for it at the time.

After the Iowa Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence, he appealed to federal court.

[U.S. District Judge James] Gritzner says Musser's 50-year prison term was reasonable, noting he repeatedly subjected women to health risks. He says Musser's rights were not violated.

Musser was originally convicted in 2003. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on the original case:

Adam Donald Musser, 22, of Iowa City, Iowa, has been charged with criminal transmission of HIV, a felony. Musser became the second person in Johnson County, Iowa, to be charged with knowingly transmitting the virus. Arrested Friday, he is being held without bond and faces up to 25 years in prison. According to police, Musser allegedly had "intimate contact" with an individual twice in April. The individual was later told by friends of Musser that Musser was HIV-positive. Court records say that Musser allegedly admitted that he had HIV when he was arrested.

Three of the complainants came forward after learning about Musser's arrest from news reports. One of the complainants, who tested HIV positive after having sexual contact with Musser, appeared on a local television program encouraging other women who may have slept with Musser to come forward and press charges.

In 2006, Musser appealed his case with the state appellate court, calling the Iowa law of partner notification unconstitutional. The court ruled against him. MSNBC.com reported:

The high court rejected several constitutional arguments in Musser's appeal, including that the state law requiring a carrier of HIV to notify a partner violates the First Amendment protection against forcing speech against one's will.

The court ruled that the state law promotes a compelling state interest and is narrow enough in scope to be constitutional.

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.


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