An HIV-positive B.C. Chilliwack man has been convicted of aggravated sexual assault after infecting a mother of two.
Steven Stewart Gauthier, 58, had been tested for the virus that causes AIDS both before and after he had a sexual relationship with the woman, BC Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin said in her February 5 ruling sitting in New Westminster.
The woman was identified in court only as R.G.
“ I believe R.G.’s testimony that she would not have had unprotected sexual intercourse with Mr. Gauthier had she known of his HIV-positive status,” Devlin ruled.
Gauthier’s testimony was contradictory, vague and evasive, the judge said.
Devlin noted Gauthier had urged the court to reject R.G.’s evidence “as being neither credible nor reliable given her admission that she was delusional and suffering from psychosis during much of the relationship.”
The two met in July 2016 when R.G. was looking for a horse trainer. By August, they had begun a sexual relationship.
Gauthier said he had told R.G. at the time “he thought he got it from a blood transfusion when he was a child,” Devlin’s decision said.
“I do not accept Mr. Gauthier’s evidence that he told R.G. about his HIV status,” she concluded.
Others had told R.G. that Gauthier was HIV-positive, a fact he denied when she asked him. She said the question agitated him and that he said others were slandering him. A doctor’s evidence showed he had been diagnosed in 2007.
“R.G. said she trusted Mr. Gauthier and believed him,” Devlin wrote. “At the time, she was ignorant about the disease and assumed that anyone who had it would appear gaunt and sickly. Mr. Gauthier appeared strong and muscular so she assumed he was healthy.”
Shortly after, they began having sex without condoms, and that October, began living together at Gauthier’s Cultus Lake farm.
At that point, her two daughters were living at her parents’ home. She was using alcohol and marijuana to cope with the separation – to her family’s concern.
By November, R.G. testified, the relationship with Gauthier worsened.
“ R.G. said by the end of November she was living in fear of Mr. Gauthier and that she complied with his demands for sex because she felt she had to,” Devlin wrote.
“ I believe R.G.’s testimony that she would not have had unprotected sexual intercourse with Mr. Gauthier had she known of his HIV-positive status,” Devlin said.
R.G. testified she was experiencing psychosis and struggling with reality.
In January 2017, R.G. ran away from the farm and contacted police, after which she was placed in hospital.
A police officer said R.G. “looked scared, dishevelled and appeared to be having a mental breakdown,” Devlin said.
Later that month, R.G. tested positive for HIV.
She returned to the farm, where Gauthier told her he had stopped taking his HIV medications because they made him tired, and that the government was trying to poison people with the virus.
A month later she left the farm with police assistance and went to a transition house.
Gauthier had said he had taken HIV medication as prescribed, but over time decided to replace it with steroids and focus on bodybuilding.
He has not been sentenced.