Rhoades v. Iowa
HIV criminalization case where an HIV-positive man was sentenced to 25 years in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender after a one-time sexual encounter in which he used a condom.
Nick Rhoades is an HIV-positive gay man living in Iowa. In June 2008, Rhoades had a one-time sexual encounter with Adam Plendl during which they used a condom. Several days after, Plendl was told by a friend that Rhoades might be HIV-positive, and he contacted the police. The police arrested Rhoades in September 2008, and charged him with intentionally exposing Plendl to HIV. On the advice of his counsel, Rhoades pled guilty, despite the fact that a condom was used and Mr. Plendl did not contract HIV. Rhoades was convicted and received the maximum sentence: 25 years in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Several months later, the court suspended his prison sentence and placed him on supervised probation for five years. On March 15, 2010, Rhoades filed an Application for Post-Conviction Relief, arguing that he had received ineffective assistance from his counsel who advised him to plead guilty. In December 2011, the court denied the application. Lambda Legal is representing Mr. Rhoades in his appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.
- June 2008 Nick Rhoades meets Adam Plendl online, they meet and have a sexual encounter
- September 2008 Rhoades is arrested for exposing Mr. Plendl to HIV, despite having used a condom, and is given the maximum 25-year sentence
- March 2010 Rhoades files an Application for Post-Conviction Relief
- December 2011 Court denies the application, and Rhoades appeals
- June 2012 Lambda Legal assumes representation of Rhoades and files appeal brief with Iowa Court of Appeals.
- September 2013 Iowa Court of Appeals hears arguments.
- October 2, 2013 Iowa Court of Appeals affirms the conviction of Nick Rhoades.
- October 22, 2013 Lambda Legal files a petition for further review with the Iowa Supreme Court.
- January 2014 – Iowa Supreme Court grants review of Court of Appeals decision.
- March 2014 – Iowa Supreme Court hears oral argument.
- June 2014 Victory! The Iowa Supreme Court set aside the conviction of Nick Rhoades. In reversing the conviction, the Court recognized that the scientific understanding of HIV transmission is evolving and HIV-positive individuals who have a suppressed viral load as a result of effective treatment may pose little risk of transmitting the virus.