The accuser in an HIV sexual assault case says he decided not to give a victim impact statement after reading an editorial in Xtra.
Ryan Handy, a 25-year-old Chatham, Ontario man, was found guilty on Nov 20 of aggravated sexual assault for failing to disclose his HIV-positive status before having unprotected sex in 2005.
Handy is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan 31. But according to a story in the London Free Press, assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings said during pre-sentencing hearings on Jan 18, that the 55-year-old accuser, whose identity is protected by court order, would not be making a victim impact statement to the court.
The man has been tested several times since 2005 and has remained HIV-negative.
Rollings told the court the man reached his decision after reading an editorial in the Dec 20 issue of Xtra written by associate publisher and managing editor Matt Mills.
Rollings said the editorial made the accuser “extremely distraught” and led him to decide he “didn’t want anything more to do with the case.”
Rollings added that the editorial “advocates victims of this kind of activity to get on with life and not involve the police.”
In the editorial Mills writes that the accuser must take a large part of the blame for engaging in unprotected sex. He writes that men are responsible for their own sexual health.
“Unprotected sex was their choice,” he writes. “They were not cold-cocked and raped. No one held guns to their heads. They weren’t blackmailed or threatened. They took calculated risks and must therefore bear much of the responsibility for any consequences. It is not a complex equation.”
Mills didn’t name Handy in the editorial but quotes an email from him that recounts his mental state when he met his accuser in 2005.
“We hooked up online right after my breakdown,” he writes. “He said he wanted to love me like a daddy. After meeting I told him I was a messiah, autistic, psychic and had the mind of a child. He picked me up, drove me into the country and jumped me in his car…. There was no talk of HIV, protection or any sort of responsible conversation. The truth is that at the time of my arrest, at the age of 22, I was a vulnerable and completely damaged, mentally ill young man who sincerely and desperately wanted to be loved. [My accuser], a man of 51 at the time, knew something was seriously wrong with me. Instead of addressing these issues and helping me with my mental health he took advantage of me sexually and emotionally.”
Handy was arrested on his 23rd birthday on Feb 6, 2005.
According to the Free Press, Handy’s lawyer, Craig McLean, told the court his client had not seen the editorial.
McLean suggested a two-year conditional sentence and asked the judge to take Handy’s mental illness and subsequent remorse into account.
Handy’s illness is under control through medical treatment, McLean said, and his risk to reoffend is low.
Rollings asked for a three-year prison sentence to “send a message to the community.”
Neither Rollings nor McLean responded to Xtra’s requests for interviews. Handy’s accuser declined to speak to on the record.