5 Mar Clarksville (TN) - When Joseph Thomas surrendered to Clarksville Police last June, it’s hard to imagine what he and his accuser were going through. Having allegedly engaged in unprotected sex with a 34-year-old woman he met online, police claimed that Thomas had knowingly exposed the woman to HIV. But based upon scores of other HIV-related cases, OMSJ suspected that doctors had used unreliable tests to convince Thomas that he was infected with HIV. Ironically, if not for Thomas’ arrest, the drugs and treatments he expected to receive would have eventually cost his insurer and Tennessee taxpayers a million dollars (or more) in unnecessary tests, clinical visits and adverse drug reactions.
After advising Clarksville Police of problems related to the case, OMSJ Director Clark Baker contacted District Public Defender Roger Nell. Although Nell was understandably skeptical at first, he soon accepted OMSJ’s assistance.
After a review of the medical charts, OMSJ confirmed that there was no credible evidence that Thomas is, or ever was, infected with HIV – a fact that could have implications among hundreds – if not thousands – of current and former Clarksville HIV patients.
When prosecutors “retired” the case last month, Nell wrote:
“I am very grateful to you and to OMSJ for the technical assistance provided pre-trial and the willingness to assist at trial had the need arisen.
“Frankly, I was completely unaware of the full complexity of the scientific issues that attend a criminal exposure to HIV case. OMSJ provided invaluable assistance by perfecting the discovery request, evaluating the initial disclosures, and by critically analyzing the medical documentation. While criminal defense attorneys are typically attune to the problems with certain scientific/expert evidence, we are not as aware of the issues surrounding diagnosis of HIV and tend to accept it at face value. With thanks to OMSJ, those of us who have had these cases no longer assume the medical diagnosis is a fact beyond change.
“I will certainly inform my colleagues of OMSJ and encourage them to contact you when faced with such a case.”
Nell is just the latest defense attorney to learn about the incompetence that permeates HIV clinics, where men and women like Corporal RL and Sierra Launer are wrongly accused of being infected by clinicians, many of whom receive kickbacks from HIV drug manufacturers like Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Gilead Sciences.
This case brings to 39 the number of successful outcomes for OMSJ’s clients in less than three years.
For more information, visit OMSJ’s HIV Innocence Group.