Crown drops charge against Edmonton man accused of passing HIV to sex partner; defence says handling of health issue in justice system ‘deplorable’

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Warning: this story contains details some readers may find disturbing.


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Prosecutors have stayed a charge of aggravated sexual assault against an Edmonton man accused of passing the AIDS virus to a sexual partner after the Crown’s key witness fell apart under cross-examination.

Anthony Lee Taylor, 31, began a jury trial Tuesday for allegedly infecting a 59-year-old man with HIV.

Police announced the charge against Taylor in 2018 and released his photo and HIV status on the belief there might be other complainants due to his work in the sex trade. The move faced harsh criticism from a local AIDS organization and Sarah Terry, Taylor’s lawyer, said that to her knowledge no one else came forward.

“I think EPS should have taken a much more critical eye to the evidence that was before them,” Terry said in an interview. “They had multiple statements (from the complainant) spanning over a year and a half, and the inconsistencies were glaring to me, just from a cursory view.”


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“I have strong issues with these sort of charges being laid against anyone, as this is a public health matter,” she added. “To capture it in the criminal justice system, I think, is deplorable.”

Postmedia is identifying the complainant in the case as D.N. because of a court-ordered publication ban. During direct examination, he was calm and deliberate, saying he picked Taylor up on an Edmonton stroll in December 2016, had unprotected sex with him twice, and was diagnosed with HIV in February 2017.

He said during their first alleged encounter, Taylor went by the name Tatiana and presented as a woman.

When challenged on those details during cross-examination , however, D.N. was agitated and defensive, raising his voice at Terry as she brought out that D.N.’s testimony was substantially different from what he told police officers and health officials.


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Terry concluded her examination by charging that D.N. either has a completely unreliable memory or was fabricating his story.

Anthony Lee Taylor.
Anthony Lee Taylor. Edmonton

“You engaged in transactional sex and became infected with HIV,” she said to D.N., summarizing the defence theory of the case. “You were looking for someone to blame for your own risky choices and feelings of shame. You went online and found someone who met the description of a Black trans (sex) worker. You stalked them online, became obsessed until you were contacted by police.”

“It would appear you’d be willing to say anything to convict Mr. Taylor.”

D.N. disagreed, saying he was telling the truth and would swear on his parents’ cremation urns.

After lunch Friday, prosecutor Vernon Eichhorn told Justice Anna Loparco that the   Crown was staying the case. Though rare, cases that are stayed can be revived by the Crown within one year.


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Jurors were then told they could go home.

On the first day of cross-examination , Terry revealed that police initially became aware of D.N.’s allegations after officials with an AHS HIV program reported him for allegedly uttering threats against Taylor and other people with HIV.

She noted D.N.’s testimony on how he met Taylor, what sex acts they engaged in, how he paid and how many times they spoke was inconsistent with his earlier statements to police and health-care workers. D.N. left court Wednesday after shouting at the Crown that the charges should be dismissed.

On Friday, Terry played a recording of an interview D.N. gave to police, in which he flew into a rage when recounting how an AHS official allegedly voiced the sentiment that the sex trade is “buyer beware.”


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“Which of course pissed me off, because the medical officer of health basically said, ‘(D.N.), you ain’t nothing but a john, and you can f–k off and die,’” D.N. said on the recording.  

He then shouted, “This slimy goddamn piece of s–t can infect as many g—–m people as it wants.” D.N. covered his ears and closed his eyes when the recording was played in court.    

Terry also brought out inconsistencies in D.N.’s statements about how many sex partners he’d had while using condoms before and after his alleged encounter with Taylor. In court, he said he had sex with a woman in January 2017, before receiving the results of an HIV test.

Terry said her client is relieved and wants to move on with life. She said the Crown should review its policies in the wake of the aborted case against Taylor.

The Crown did not immediately respond to requests for comment.



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