Tony Fulciniti weeps openly as he recounts his arrest and incarceration in a Toronto jail after being charged with a list of crimes including three counts of aggravated sexual assault; allegations he says are false.
It all started in March 2006 when he says he met a man at a Toronto bar and fell in love. The two lived together off and on for two years. Fulciniti says the relationship was sometimes rocky but largely loving.
“I just wanted something that I thought was going to be a lifetime thing and I thought the more work you put into something the better,” he says.
Fulciniti says he ended the relationship in March of this year but when he subsequently tried to contact his former lover to arrange for the man to return some of Fulciniti’s possessions there was no reply. He says he was surprised on Apr 1 to receive a phone call from a police officer who said she was calling to arrange the return of Fulciniti’s things.
“All the sudden they were at my door arresting me,” he says. “I thought they were there to give me my stuff back…. They took me into jail.”
Fulciniti is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of threatening death, two counts of assault with a weapon, one count of assault, one count of criminal harassment and one count of mischief.
His accuser, whose identity is protected from publication by law, alleges in court documents that Fulciniti never wore a condom while he raped him orally and anally between 50 and 60 times over the two years that they were together. But Fulciniti says the attacks never happened and that the sex they did have was low risk.
“Before we got too involved I wanted to let him know that I am HIV-positive,” says Fulciniti. “I wanted to actually say to him ‘I’m positive.’ He said, ‘Oh I don’t care. I knew.’ He actually said, ‘I knew.’ He didn’t seem to care.
“There was no intercourse,” Fulciniti continues. “All there was was oral sex. There were no fluids passed at all. The only time he wanted me to use a condom was when I tried to penetrate him but when it came time to put the condom on I just couldn’t stay erect. In two years together it just never happened. He was the one that wanted it and I just couldn’t do it.
“Most of our sex was verbal; a little touching and then we would finally masturbate. I’d masturbate on myself and he’d masturbate on me.”
The accuser also alleges Fulciniti perpetrated a series of verbal and physical attacks that included death threats.
“It never passed my lips,” says Fulciniti. “I would never say anything like that and it was never in my heart. I never ever wanted death to that guy. All I wanted was to help him.”
Fulciniti says he was charged and arrested solely on the word of his accuser. He says he was treated like toxic waste by police and jail staff because of his HIV-positive status.
“They treat you so differently,” he says. “They treat you like they don’t even want to come near you or they’re going to catch it.”
He says he spent three days in jail before he was finally released pending trial and recounts the experience as the most humiliating and terrifying time of his life.
“I was in protective custody so [the other prisoners] knew that there’s something serious,” he says. “I didn’t really want to get into it because you can’t talk about it. [My cell mate] said, ‘If you’re lying it’s going to get around and we’re going to find out and if you’re back here tomorrow.’ So I told him what happened and he said, ‘What an asshole.’ He knew that it was bogus.”
Fulciniti says that despite the allegations against him and the treatment he received by police, the other prisoners were mostly accepting of his sexuality and supportive of his predicament.
“They were like buddies,” he says. “Not one of them threatened me.”
Fulciniti says his initial court appearance is a blur because stress and three days without sleep left him “a zombie.” He says he has a hearing impairment but that he wasn’t wearing his hearing aids when he was arrested and didn’t tell police or court officials that he needed them. He also says that he wasn’t given the chance to take his HIV meds while he was in jail.
A trial date has not yet been set. Fulciniti remains free on bail but as a condition of his release is not permitted to leave home unaccompanied.
“I gave up everything I had in my life and he turns around and does this,” sobs Fulciniti. “It’s not fair. If you’re a good person, you don’t know what you’re capable of when you’re put into such a predicament where you can’t live your life. You’re going to go nuts. They just want to create another monster. That’s all they want to do. How many months more of my life is he going to take? I don’t know if I’ll make it through this whole thing.”