Woman gets probation for HIV-related sex charge
‘You’ve come a long way,’ judge says during sentencing
A Hamilton woman has been sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault for not disclosing her HIV status to a sexual partner.
In handing down April Dawn Bullock’s sentence Tuesday, Justice Andrew Goodman said he agreed to the joint submission from counsel despite the “very serious” nature of the offence.
“There are significant mitigating factors,” he told court.
To start, the incidents date back to 2010, which is before the 36-yearold’s initial arrest for similar charges. She pleaded guilty to those charges later that year.
If these allegations had come to light at the time, the Crown would not have sought a further sentence, Goodman said.
At the time of her initial arrest in 2011, Bullock did not have a criminal record, he said.
Goodman also noted Bullock pleaded guilty, has adhered to her HIV treatment and is devoted to her son, who has a significant disability.
“Frankly, I don’t think you’re the same person you were,” he said. “You’ve come a long way.”
Goodman said he didn’t see Bullock’s probation as punitive, but as a way to help her “continue along the good track you’re taking now.”
In addition to probation, Bullock’s sentence also includes having no contact with the complainant, actively participating in programs recommended by her probation officer and providing a DNA sample.
She is prohibited from possessing weapons and will be on the sex offender registry for life.
Crown prosecutor Craig Fraser said the complainant is “satisfied” with Bullock’s sentence.
“He understands the rationale,” Fraser told court.
Originally, Bullock faced seven charges of aggravated sexual assault, but the remaining six were withdrawn, her lawyer, Cynthia Fromstein, confirmed.
In court, Fromstein said there would be no reasonable prospect of conviction for the withdrawn charges because of Bullock’s viral load, which has been “very low” since 2012, hovered around undetectable since 2014 and consistently undetectable since 2015.
Bullock was featured in a Hamilton-based documentary, “Unlocking HIV,” about the criminalization of HIV. In the film, she said she contracted HIV in 1997 at the age of 17 when she was sexually assaulted.
“When I was with these relationships, I just felt ashamed and I didn’t want them to not accept me or love me for who I was,” she said in the documentary.