Justice scales

An HIV-positive teenager was found not guilty on an aggravated sexual assault charge, even though he failed to tell his sexual partner about his condition.

An HIV-positive teenager has beat a charge of aggravated sexual assault, even though he failed to tell his sexual partner about his condition.

In a decision released Friday by a Nova Scotia youth court, Judge Jamie Campbell ruled the teen was not guilty, because there was no real risk the girl would be infected.

In his decision, Judge Campbell revealed details of the 17-year-old accused, who can only be identified by the initials J.T.C. The boy apparently contracted HIV when he was very young and was sexually assaulted by his mother's then-partner. His mother died a short time later in an accident.

J.T.C. ended up in various group homes. It was while he was in the system that he first met the 17-year-old complainant, who is only identified by the initials S.N.

J.T.C. and S.N. remained friends on Facebook, which Judge Campbell described as "a social media site that first turned 'friend' into a verb and then appears to have ground the word into meaningless dust."

The court heard how after a chance encounter on a bus, S.N. and J.T.C. had sex in a public washroom at Mic Mac Mall.

The girl then took to Facebook to question J.T.C. about whether he had any sexually transmitted diseases. He denied he did.

But the court also heard from a leading expert on infectious diseases and the epidemiology of HIV.

Dr. Walter Schlech told the court that having examined J.T.C.'s medical records, he did not believe it was possible for the teen to pass on HIV.

Based on Schlech's expert testimony and recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions on sexual assault and sexually transmitted diseases, Judge Campbell acquitted J.T.C.