HIV airman charged with assault

An airman in Kansas has been charged with assault and related crimes for having unprotected sex without telling his partners he was HIV positive, the Air Force said today.

Tech. Sgt David Gutierrez, 43, is accused of violating military law by having unprotected sex with at least 11 different people, including some he met at so-called swinger parties.

Gutierrez is stationed with the 22nd Maintenance Operations Squadron at McConnell Air Force Base in central Kansas.

Along with aggravated assault, the military also charged him with violating his squadron commander’s October 2009 order to notify his sexual partners about his HIV status before having sexual relations and to use condoms.

Gutierrez has also been charged with indecent acts for having sexual relations in front of others, adultery and obstruction of justice.

The obstruction charge stems from allegations Gutierrez deleted e-mails and other files from his mobile phone and computer, including online profiles soliciting sexual relations and digital photos and videos of him engaging in sex.

An Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, has been set for October 5 at McConnell Air Force Base to determine whether to refer the case to a court martial.

Gutierrez has been under arrest at the base since August 9, and the military has 120 days from that date to wrap up the case unless his defence asks for more time, said Lt Col Andree Swanson, a military spokeswoman at McConnell.

Gutierrez could face more than 53 years in prison if convicted on all charges, Swanson said. Other penalties include a dishonourable discharge, forfeiture of pay and reduction in rank.

More charges could be filed if investigators identify more victims, and the Air Force has asked people with information about the case to contact its Office of Special Investigations.

The Sedgwick County Health Department has urged people who might have had contact with Gutierrez to be tested for HIV infection.

A federal search warrant alleges Gutierrez attended at least 21 Wichita-area sex parties called “swinger” events from January 2009 until this past July.

An affidavit filed in support of the search warrant said the airman’s wife told authorities her husband became infected in 2007 while stationed in Italy. The wife claimed Gutierrez began having unprotected sex with numerous people after being assigned to McConnell in December 2008 and bragged to her that he never told them he was HIV-positive.

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