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

All Kootenay Boundary parks and outdoor facilities closed

RDKB reminds all residents the shutdown is for public safety and in response to COVID-19

Trail police investigating early morning brush fire

Call of trees on fire came into Kootenay Boundary fire department just before 1:30 a.m.

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Pandemic has Trail council re-considering budget, tax increase

Coronavirus changes forecast, city leaders deciding what changes to make in 2020

West Kootenay octogenarian helping develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

Peter Brockley is working with his doctor son, Graham, to develop the unit that could save lives

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Most Read