A Chilliwack man was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday (June 25) for repeatedly having sex with a woman while he was HIV-positive and not informing her.
Steven Stewart Gauthier was convicted on Feb. 5, 2020 by Justice Martha Devlin in BC Supreme Court 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.”
The now 59-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 by Crown counsel John Lester.
R.G. tested positive for HIV while in an institution after she was certified under the Mental Health Act in late January 2017 for about a month.
Gauthier was also alleged to have been “physical” with R.G. and the sex got rougher and rougher leading to charges of sexual assault and assault, but he 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.
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.
Crown counsel was asking for more time in jail, but Gauthier was sentenced to four years in prison in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster on June 25.
That global sentenced minus timer served means Gauthier was given almost three years, or 1,099, more to serve.
Lester was no longer acting as Crown in the case as he was removed because of an allegation of a threat against the Crown. Gauthier is now facing a decision in that case on July 27 in provincial court in Surrey.
Gauthier was in the news in early 2020 this year as the owner of a dog accused of attacking multiple people in the Columbia Valley.
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