Steven Gauthier was convicted in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster on Feb. 5, 2020 of aggravated sexual assault for having sex with a woman while HIV positive and not informing her of his infection. (Facebook)

Chilliwack man convicted after failing to disclose HIV-positive status to partner

Steven Gauthier convicted in BC Supreme Court after he did not disclose status to sexual partner

A Chilliwack man was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in BC Supreme Court on Wednesday for repeatedly having sex with a woman while infected with HIV without her knowing about his HIV status.

Steven Stewart Gauthier was convicted by Justice Martha Devlin in New Westminster of one count of aggravated sexual assault under section 273 of the Criminal Code. Aggravated sexual assault is defined as sexual assault that “wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.”

Consensual sex with a person who does not disclose their HIV status meets the test of endangering the life of the complainant, and the consent is vitiated – rendered legally invalid – because of the non-disclosure.

The now 58-year-old Gauthier was in a relationship with R.G., the complainant who cannot be named due to a publication ban. Starting in late summer 2016, the two began engaging in sexual activity, according to evidence presented in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster by Crown counsel John Lester.

R.G. was tested for HIV in November of 2016 and was negative. She was then certified under the Mental Health Act in late January 2017 for about a month. It was early in that stay at an institution that a blood test was done, and she was deemed to be HIV positive.

Crown called numerous doctors as witnesses, some who explained the way HIV is transmitted and when it is detected in a test after transmission.

There were also allegations by R.G. that the sex itself did get physically rougher and rougher leading to further charges of sexual assault and assault, but Gauthier was acquitted of those charges because of the credibility of the complainant’s testimony due to her mental state.

Gauthier argued that R.G. was aware of his HIV status, but he was not deemed credible, at least in part because when the victim found out she too was HIV positive, she thought it was a death sentence.

Lester said, and the court accepted, that this was not the response of someone who was consensually having sex with an HIV-positive person.

Contracting HIV in such a case is not even necessary for a conviction of aggravated sexual assault, rather a “realistic possibility” of transmission is enough.

An oft-cited case of R v Mabior from the Supreme Court of Canada involved a man who had sex with nine complainants while HIV positive and while failing to disclose. In convincing Mabior, the court revisited a test from a 1989 decision, R v Cuerrier that found “A person may be found guilty of aggravated sexual assault under sec. 273 of the Criminal Code if he fails to disclose HIV-positive status before intercourse and there is a realistic possibility that HIV will be transmitted.”

Justice Devlin convicted Gauthier in court on Feb. 5, 2020. He remains out of custody, and a sentencing date is set for April 3 in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster.

The case calls to mind that of former Chilliwack and Abbotsford resident Brian Carlisle who was charged with aggravated sexual assault in a dozen cases for having sex with women while HIV-positive.

In 2018 all charges against Carlisle were dropped, and last August he filed a lawsuit against the province of B.C. and 10 members of the Mission RCMP.

• READ MORE: B.C. man facing nine more aggravated sexual assault charges: Mission RCMP

• READ MORE: Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Gauthier was in the news already this week as the owner of a dog accused of attacking multiple people in the Columbia Valley.

• READ MORE: Chililwack neighbourhood terrified after dog attacks at least seven people


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Forestry workers vote for new agreement, ending 8-month strike on Vancouver Island

Wage increases, higher premiums and contract language part of new agreement

REVIEW: Poetry helps Conshinz heal from brain trauma

The Book of 1000 Poems, Volumes 1-4, by Conshinz, a.k.a. Port Alice… Continue reading

Meet the new owner of the Scarlet Ibis Pub & Restaurant

Kevin Foley is originally from Regina, Saskatchewan.

OPINION: Reformed or not, ICBC is still a monopoly. Why?

“It’s past time that politicians do the right thing: they need to end the ICBC monopoly”

Sports Talk with Tyson: Coaching high school wrestling has been very rewarding

Thanks goes to Mike Cleary for volunteering to teacher sponsor the wrestling program.

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Wet’suwet’en return to northern B.C. forest road pipeline workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

BC Ferries gets injunction against demonstrations in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

The preemptive injunction is a ‘last resort in the interest of public safety,’ spokesperson says

Over a dozen birds found mysteriously dead on rural B.C road

Ministry of Agriculture notified of the strange occurrence on No. 4 Road in Abbotsford

Most Read