Missouri Wrestler Who Faced 30 Years For Exposing Partners To HIV Granted Parole

Written by on April 10, 2018

A college wrestler convicted of exposing several sex partners to HIV without disclosing his status has been granted parole after 18 months in prison.

In 2013, Michael Johnson, nicknamed “Tiger Mandingo,” was charged with “recklessly” infecting partners with HIV. Videos surfaced of Johnson having unprotected sex with more than a dozen different men, though six ultimately testified he failed to disclose he was HIV-positive. He was sentenced to 30.5 years in prison, but a new trial was ordered in 2016 when a Missouri appeals court ruled prosecutors withheld evidence.

The following year, he accepted a 10-year plea deal. Johnson will now be released from Boonville Correctional Facility on October 9, 2019, almost six years after his initial arrest.

”We had some hopes, because of all the support Michael had received and a couple of other factors, that he would get out at an earlier date,” Johnson’s lawyer, Eric Selig, told Buzzfeed.

Johnson will reportedly live with friends in Indiana when he is released, checking in regularly with parole officers through 2023. Because the charges fell under a health statute and not a sexual offense, he will not be required to register as a sex offender.

The case shined a spotlight on HIV criminalization laws, which critics say are outdated and biased: Johnson was originally convicted of five counts of recklessly exposing and infecting partners, a Class B felony under Missouri’s HIV criminalization law and actually a longer sentence than many handed out for second-degree murder in Missouri.

Selig argued Johnson’s partners had a responsibility for their own sexual health, and that HIV is not the death sentence it was when the mandatory disclosure law were enacted in the 1990s. He also accused the D.A.’s office of using fearmongering and racism to get a conviction: Prosecutors included graphic descriptions of Johnson’s “huge” penis at trial and presented images of it.

Editor in Chief of NewNowNext. Comic book enthusiast. Bounder and cad.

@ItsDanAvery

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