UPDATE: ND man arrested for spreading HIV to at least one woman
WILLISTON, N.D. --A man arrested this week in Williston is suspected of spreading HIV to at least one other person, police say.
A 54-year-old woman told investigators last week that she’d dated Rodriguez for several months during the summer and fall, and had unprotected sex with him during that time.
Rodriguez allegedly never told her that he had HIV, although records from the Williams County Correctional Center show that he told officers there in 2015 that he was carrying the virus.
When the woman, who is referred to as “Jane Doe” in an affidavit, confronted Rodriguez after learning from another person about his suspected diagnosis, he denied having HIV, authorities say.
The woman tested positive for HIV in October, according to records.
Police, citing the investigation’s sensitivity because it is related to medical issues, aren’t releasing many details, but say they expect at least one additional accuser to come forward.
Although authorities do not want to create a panic, they are hoping that anyone who believes they may have been exposed speaks with detectives, Sgt. Detective Amy Nickoloff said.
Another woman who asked to remain anonymous said she believes she contracted HIV from Rodriguez while the two were dating in 2015.
She said she hesitated to go to the police because the allegation was hard to prove, but didn’t wait to let friends and acquaintances know after her January 2016 diagnosis.
“I let everyone know I had it… I knew there were other victims,” the woman, 53, said. “I know there’s other women out there.”
She said she has been open about her experience in the hopes of preventing further transmission of the virus.
“We don’t know the extent of all of this,” she said. “There’s people out there that could be spreading it.”
Rodriguez is being held at the Williams County Correctional Center, where a bond has not yet been set.
A state law criminalizing the spread of HIV when a person does not disclose their condition to sexual partners and others who might be infected has been part of the North Dakota century code since the late 1980s.
It’s not clear how many people have been charged or convicted under the statute.
In 2006, a Minot man, Scott Bethke, was arrested and charged with corruption of a minor and transfer of a bodily fluid that may contain HIV. A Ward County judge acquitted him on the latter charge. Bethke was charged with the same offense again in 2013, but was acquitted in 2014.
According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a nationwide analysis showed that as of 2011, 33 states in the United States had statutes that criminalized potential HIV exposure.
Rodriguez has been living in Williston for some time working construction jobs, according to the woman, who said she witnessed his arrest on Monday in Williston.