Former Canadian Football League player Trevis Smith was granted full parole Wednesday after serving almost two years of a six-year sentence for knowingly exposing two women to HIV, which causes AIDS.
Smith, 32, appeared before a panel of the National Parole Board in Prince Albert, Sask., where he is serving time at a federal penitentiary.
The parole board members said they believed Smith has displayed insight into his actions and will be a manageable risk in the community. He will be released from prison on Feb. 25.
"As bad as it may seem, this is probably the best thing that ever happened to me," Smith told the panel which also learned that he had completed a sex offender course.
Smith spoke softly during the one-hour session before the three-person panel. He said he no longer expects to be a professional athlete, but is interested in coaching.
The board noted that Smith, who is originally from Alabama, will be required to return to the U.S. and that a stay on a deportation order in place against him will be lifted.
Smith said he planned to rejoin his wife and two children in the states and become a substitute teacher. When asked if he would be allowed to work with children, Smith said it should not be a problem.
"I won't have a criminal record in Alabama," he said.
Smith was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault in February 2007. A judge found Smith had unprotected sex with two women and did not tell them he was infected with HIV.
Two victims, one from Regina and one from B.C., testified that Smith denied having the virus when they were intimate with him.
Smith will have to inform Canadian officials if he returns to Canada for any reason. He is also not allowed to have any contact with the victims in his case.
Smith was a starting middle linebacker for the Saskatchewan Roughriders for seven years before he was arrested in 2005. His conviction followed two years later.
He said he would work hard to be faithful to his wife, Tamika, who supported him throughout the case, notwithstanding the evidence of numerous affairs.
"You're a lucky man she still supports you after what you've done," board member Terry Elliot commented during the hearing.
A Regina woman who attended Smith's hearing was not so forgiving. The woman, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, was not a victim in the criminal case against Smith, but her involvement with him helped to spark an investigation into Smith.
"I believe Mr. Smith will be a danger to the community," she told the board. "He lives in a world of denial and selfishness."
Corrections reports filed with the board described Smith as an impulsive, hyper-sexed man with an inflated ego and sense of entitlement.
Smith countered those assessments saying that time in prison has helped him realize he needs to change.