More Charges Added For Man Accused Of Failing To Reveal HIV Status
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A judge decided to grant the prosecutor’s request to add two additional counts to Jeremy Merithew’s list of charges.
Merithew was facing a four-year felony for failing to disclose his HIV status to a sexual partner last August.
Friday a Kent County Court judge agreed to allow two additional charges, sexual penetration with an uninformed partner and use of a computer to commit a crime.
Merithew’s attorney also submitted a motion to dismiss the charges against her client based on the constitutionality.
Defense Attorney Christine Yared argued that the Michigan law that prohibits a person from not telling their sexual partners about their HIV status is a violation of free speech.
“The constitutional argument that we`re making is a free speech argument,” said Yared. “The government is saying to a person, when you have sex you have to say these words.”
Yared also argued the law was not relevant by today’s standards.
She says because of new treatments associated with the disease, it’s not as easy to spread if the person is on medication.
She says Merithew was taking his medication.
She argues risk of transmission is so low, people should not be held to outdated standards.
“There isn`t the risk of transmission, that existed in the 80`s when that law was passed or even in the 90`s when our Michigan courts looked at this law. So, the law is unconstitutional,” said Yared. “It`s not keeping up with the reality of what really happens.”
However, the judge disagreed with the request to dismiss.
Judge James Redford said the law is clearly stated.
“It is neither vague nor does it diminish or chill free speech. Therefore, for the reasons set forth, the defendant`s motion to dismiss on constitutional grounds is respectfully denied,” said Redford.
He added, any changes with the law should be worked out in the legislature, not the courts.
“The legislature enacted the law a long time ago out of public interest,” said Gerry Faber, Kent County Prosecutor.
The defense’s motion to dismiss on constitutionality was denied.
Merithew was put back in jail after his bond was raised to $300,000 cash following a FOX 17 investigation that uncovered an online dating profile which appeared to show Merithew looking for more sexual partners on Adam4Adam.com.
That was the same website where he found the sexual partner he’s accused of failing to disclose his status to in 2012.
The judge changed his bond based on that new information earlier in the week.
A trial date in the case could be set as early as May, 2013.