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

Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre set to reopen on June 18

Local artists will have work on display; COVID-19 protocols observed

RDN Transit will start collecting bus fare again next week

Passenger limits will remain in effect on buses

‘A bottomless well of love for people and communities’

Parksville Qualicum Beach News editor JR Rardon dies at age 61

COVID-19: Learning continues in unique ways for SD 69 students

Youngsters find ways to excel while learning at home

Petition underway to get RDN to improve Sandpiper water quality

Campaign urges regional district to make issue a priority

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

28 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

Royal B.C. Museum reopens in phases, some galleries remain closed to start summer

Victoria museum and archives open first galleries June 19

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

Most Read