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HIV-Positive Man Ordered to Prison

February 21, 1998

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) _ A drifter who never told 10 young women that he had the AIDS virus before having sex was sentenced Friday to 15 to 22 1/2 years in prison.

James Wallace Jones, 33, apologized for keeping his HIV-positive status a secret from his partners, most of whom were in their teens. So far none of the women have tested positive for the virus.

That was no consolation to one of the victims.

``I think he should go away for life,″ said the 17-year-old woman, who would not give her name.

She added tearfully: ``I have a 3-year-old daughter at home who already doesn’t have a father. And now I have to live for a year wondering if I have AIDS.″

The danger has largely passed for most of the women because the virus usually shows up within three months, according to Kit Mikovitz of the Grand Traverse County Health Department.

But it will be a year before they can get a clean bill of health, she said.

Jones received the maximum for the crimes to which he pleaded guilty last month: failing to notify a sex partner he had HIV; third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a 15-year-old; and being a habitual offender.

Convicted of attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor in 1993, Jones tested positive for HIV and began taking the drug AZT, court reports stated.

Jones returned to town after his release last summer and fell in with a group of troubled young people who shared apartments, money and alcohol and had unprotected sex.

Even though two of the 10 women asked him directly, Jones denied being HIV-positive, prosecutor Dennis LaBelle said.

Jones’s attorney, Peter Shumar, described Jones as a lonely man of limited intelligence who was afraid to tell people of his condition.

``He felt that he would be ostracized, he no longer would have any friends,″ Shumar said.

But Judge Thomas Power said Jones preyed on vulnerable young women and would again if given the chance.

``I therefore view you as very dangerous when you get out of prison,″ Power said.

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