By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 25 2003 12:00 AM ET
A gay man in Akron, Ohio, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for failing to tell a female sex partner that he was infected with HIV, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Mor Rondo Roberts, who self-identifies as gay, was sentenced over objections by his lawyer that the prison term would be a "death sentence" for the man. "Putting him in prison will kill him," argued attorney Tom Adgate, who claimed that the jail staff wouldn't effectively treat Roberts's HIV infection, which would lead to the onset of AIDS. Adgate also pointed out to Summit County common pleas judge Patricia Cosgrove that Roberts, 31, had no previous criminal record and had numerous letters of support from coworkers at the Summit County Department of Jobs and Family Services. Roberts also is active with several AIDS and gay community groups.
Roberts was convicted of second-degree felony assault, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. During his trial Roberts denied that he had sex with the woman on the grounds that he is openly gay. Following Roberts's conviction last week, Adgate told reporters he expected Roberts to be found guilty because it was "hard for the jury to believe a black man who's gay and has HIV." But in sentencing Roberts, Cosgrove said she was displeased with his lawyer's statement. "Your conduct brought you here," she told Roberts.