Woman gets pro­ba­tion for HIV-re­lated sex charge

‘You’ve come a long way,’ judge says dur­ing sen­tenc­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - NATALIE PAD­DON

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.

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