Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Man Who Spread H.I.V. May Be Held

ALBANY — Attorney General Andrew M. never having to say you're sorryCuomo’s office is moving to block the release of Nushawn J. Williams, the Brooklyn man who was believed to have knowingly infected a number of young women and girls in upstate New York with H.I.V. in a highly publicized case more than a deThere is no cryingcade ago. Mr. Williams, 33, was due to be released on Tuesday after serving his maximum sentence of 12 years, but Mr. Cuomo’s office is seeking to keep him in custody under a three-year-old state law that permits the civil confinement of sex offenders. Last Friday, a state judge in Buffalo, near where Mr. Williams has been jailed, ordered that he remain in custody pending the outcome of a civil confinement proceeding. Make yourself heard
A long-term resolution to Mr. Williams’s status is likely to be determined at a civil jury trial, which will decide whether he suffers from a mental aImpossible made possiblebnormality that requires confinement at a psychiatric facility or release under intensive supervision. He could also forgo a trial by entering into an agreement with the state, similar to a plea agreement in a criminal case. “Under law, he remains confined as the court process moves forward,” said John Milgrim, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomoexpress our point of view. State officials said on Tuesday that the court has not yet appointed a lawyer for Mr. Williams in the civil proceedings. Mr. Williams’s case received nationwide attention after it first became public in 1997, leading to debate about his culpability in spreading a potentially fatal sexually transmitted disease. It also led to the passage of a law requiring doctors and laboratories to report to the state the names of people who test positive for H.I.V. The information is passed on to local health officials, who interview those infected and ask them to name their partners and to warn them. A drifter with a history as a gang member and a drug dealer, Mr. Williams once boasted in a television interview of having sex with 200 to 300 women, from New York City and Rochester to a swath of towns in western New York — Jamestown, Dunkirk, Silver Creek, Randolph, Kennedy and Panama Village — as well as in Charlottesville, Va., and in North Carolina. In Chautauqua County, south of Buffalo, an investigation by the health commissioner found Mr. Williams to be the common denominator in the rapid spread of the disease. Health officials say Mr. Williams was informed of his H.I.V. status in 1996, but three years later, in a television interview from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., he expressed denial about his H.I.V. status, saying “I still don’t even know if I got it now,” adding of the women he slept with, “yeah, I gave them a death sentence, but it wasn’t knowingly.” He pleaded guilty to charges of statutory rape and two counts of reckless endangerment for knowingly infecting two girls with the AIDS virus. He is being held under civil confinement legislation that was signed in March 2007, an early victory in the brief administration of Eliot Spitzer. His predecessor, George E. Pataki, could not forge agreement on the issue with Assembly Democrats, and began using the state’s existing mental health laws to detain sex offenders in psychiatric hospitals nonetheless, a practice that the Court of Appeals struck down in late 2006. In the first three years of the new law, the state has filed 377 petitions to continue to supervise or confine inmates after the end of their criminal sentences. Many of the cases are still pending. Of the 111 civil management trials that have been held, only 15 inmates have been found not to have a mental abnormality that required supervision or confinement. Another 133 inmates have struck agreements with the state, either consenting to be confined in mental health facilities or placed under strict supervision