White Cloud man sentenced to jail, probation in AIDS case.

April 19, 2016
Gerald Penn with his attorney, Kari Russell.

Gerald Penn with his attorney, Kari Russell.

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — A 44-year-old White Cloud man was sentenced to serve six months up front of a one-year discretionary jail sentence in 51st Circuit Court Tuesday, April 19, for not disclosing he has AIDS to his sex partner.

Gerald Anthony Penn, of 777 Cole Creek Lane, pleaded “no contest” last month to one felony count of AIDS – sexual penetration with an uninformed partner. In exchange for his plea, a misdemeanor count of aggravated domestic violence was dismissed.

The victim in the case addressed the court, stating he thought he was involved in what appeared to be a “healthy and lasting relationship. I fell in love,” he said.

The victim stated that Penn attacked him the night of Jan. 19 in the City of Ludington, pouring lighter fluid on him and using a lighter. He asked Judge Susan K. Sniegowski to place Penn on probation for five years — instead of the recommended one-and-a-half years — in order to protect other potential victims. “He knew he had AIDS for five years,” he said.

Sniegowski granted the victim’s request by ordering five years probation. Penn is also ordered to pay restitution to the victim for his medical expenses.

“This case has been particularly hard on (the victim),” Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said. “It’s unknown if he’s contracted a serious life-long condition. He has a great deal of concern of what is going to happen in the future. Irresponsible is far too kind a word for it — it’s criminal and that is why we are here today.” The prosecutor said the victim has used the term “train wreck” to describe the situation he is now in. “It turned his life upside down,” Spaniola said.

“This is an exceptional charge,” Sniegoswki said. “Mr. Penn had knowledge that he is HIV positive.” The damage to the victim’s life “brings with it a huge emotional toll,” she said. “He essentially didn’t care that he could be spreading that to someone else. That is just unacceptable.”

The offense is punishable by up to four years in prison.

Penn received credit for 58 days served in jail.

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