Charlie Buttrey

September 22, 2020

Back in November of 2018, prosecutors allege, Bennington, Vermont resident Robert Billington had sex with a woman on several occasions without telling her that he was HIV-positive. On one occasion, the woman claims, she even asked him directly if he had any sexually-transmitted diseases, and he said he did not.

Prosecutors brought a charge of aggravated sexual assault against Billington on the grounds that the woman would not have consented to the act if she had known that he was HIV-positive.

The trial court dismissed the charge, and the State appealed.

Last week, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. The statute, the court ruled, prohibits “nonconsensual sex,” and such things as force, blackmail and minority may vitiate consent. But, the court added, the statute does not require INFORMED consent. There is nothing in the law, the court concluded, to suggest that the legislature intended to criminalize consent obtained by fraud.

Which is not to say that what Billington did, if true, isn’t truly odious.


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