CEDAR RAPIDS — A 33-year-old Cedar Rapids man, who has HIV and knowingly infected two women and one minor, pleaded guilty Monday to amended charges and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Lamont James, who originally was charged with two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault while participating in a felony, and four counts of criminal transmission of an infectious or contagious disease — HIV.
Criminal transmission of a contagious or infectious disease means a person knowingly exposed an uninfected person and acted with a “reckless disregard as to whether” a person contracts the disease, according to the criminal complaint.
James, during the hearing by phone, admitted that between March 1, 2016, and March 30, 2017, he assaulted a 13-year-old girl by having physical contact with her while he had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
He also admitted to having sexual contact with her and giving her HIV between March 1, 2016, and March 30, 2019.
During the hearing, James also admitted to having sex with a 41-year-old woman and infecting her between April 1, 2016, and December 2017; infecting a 19-year-old woman between March 1, 2016, and March 30, 2019; and having sex with a 21-year-old woman between March 5 and Aug. 30, 2016. She was not infected.
Iowa criminal pleadings and hearings may be conducted by phone or video with the defendant’s consent to reduce in-person contact in the courthouses during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an Iowa Supreme Court order.
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James originally was charged with third-degree sexual abuse of the 13-year-old,who reported the abuse when she was 16. She told police she had been in a sexual relationship with James for two years and she believed he was the one who infected her, according to a July 9, 2019, search warrant affidavit.
Cedar Rapids police investigator Bryson Garringer, in the affidavit, said the girl’s report wasn’t the first police had received about James.
A woman filed a report with police in November 2018, stating she believed she had contracted HIV from James.
In the affidavit, Garringer requested access to “any and all medical records” that Linn County Public Health had relating to James’ HIV status.
A warrant was issued for James’ arrest last September.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson sentenced James following his pleas because James waived his right to a presentencing report.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter asked the court to follow the plea agreement, which calls for consecutive sentences of the five five-year felony terms and the one-year serious misdemeanor term, for a total of 26 years.
She said this crime was “egregious” because he willingly transmitted or attempted to transmit the disease. And while HIV isn’t a death sentence, these victims had the right to know and make the choice themselves, she added.
James, during the hearing, said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Slaughter, and said he hopes he will consider his actions in the future.
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Anderson said James acted “selfishly to satisfy your own desires without regard for others.” In the future, he hopes James will think about how his actions will affect others. He caused mental anguish, pain and suffering for the victims, the judge said.
The special sentence of parole and the requirement of being registered as a sex offender were not imposed because Anderson didn’t make a finding that this was a sexually motivated crime, as part of the plea agreement. But James will have to go through the sex offender treatment program while in prison.
Anderson also ordered five-year no-contact orders against James for each of the victims.
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