Sex assault trial begins for Edmonton man accused of infecting partner with HIV

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

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A man who was infected with the AIDS virus, allegedly during an encounter with an Edmonton sex worker, gave pained testimony on the first day of the accused’s trial.

Anthony Lee Taylor was charged in late 2018 with aggravated sexual assault for allegedly failing to disclose his HIV status to a partner with whom he twice had sex for money in December 2016. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday, the first day of what is expected to be a two-week jury trial.

The complainant’s health began to deteriorate in the months following his encounter with Taylor. He was eventually diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). His name is protected by a court-ordered publication ban imposed on the identities of sexual assault complainants. Postmedia is identifying him by the initials D.N.

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D.N. is in his late 50s. He spoke slowly and deliberately as he answered questions from prosecutor Clint Clouston. His hand shook as he took a drink from a bottle of water.

When asked about his diagnosis, his face contorted with emotion.

“When I first found out I was HIV-positive in early February 2017, my thoughts were ‘life was over,’” he said. “And that I would go home that night, and I would commit suicide.”

Taylor was diagnosed with HIV in 2013, prosecutor Vernon Eichhorn told jurors during the Crown’s opening address. He alleged that Taylor was forgoing treatment when he had sex with D.N.

D.N. told court he met Taylor while driving home in December 2016. He spotted Taylor on a street corner in Norwood a few hours after midnight. At the time, Taylor was wearing a wig, feminine clothing and presented as female. Taylor introduced himself as Tatiana.

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“Mr. Taylor opened the passenger door, asked if I wanted to go out,” D.N. testified. “I answered yes, he got in, and we proceeded to go to my residence.”

Anthony Lee Taylor was charged with aggravated sexual assault on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, for allegedly failing to disclose to a sexual partner that he was HIV-positive. He was 28 at the time of his arrest.
Anthony Lee Taylor was charged with aggravated sexual assault on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, for allegedly failing to disclose to a sexual partner that he was HIV-positive. He was 28 at the time of his arrest. Edmonton

D.N. and Taylor made small talk at D.N.’s home, where he lives alone. They smoked a joint. Taylor toured the bungalow and commented approvingly on D.N.’s furniture and a basement renovation project.

They then went to the bedroom. As they became more intimate, D.N. realized Taylor was not a woman. He withdrew at first but later thought “that this could be different.”

“I was bi-curious,” he told court. “I did not know what this was truly about. And made the decision to go forward.”  

The two ultimately engaged in oral and anal sex without condoms. D.N. was the receptive partner, which poses a higher risk of HIV transmission .

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Afterward, D.N. cleaned up and prepared to take Taylor home, but he had disappeared into the night.

Taylor left behind some clothing and did not respond to text messages from D.N. After about three weeks, he replied, and the two rendezvoused a second time.

Around a month later, Taylor messaged again and asked if D.N. was interested in sex. “I replied ‘no,’” D.N. told the court. “At this point in time, I am deathly ill.”  

He described in detail night sweats which left him so wet he had to wake up to change multiple times a night.

“I can run my hands through my hair and … it’s like I just jumped out of the shower,” he said, adding he is now in treatment and in better health.

At no point during either meet-up did did Taylor use a condom or disclose his HIV status, D.N. testified.

“Mr. Taylor does not carry condoms,” he said, his voice hardening. “Mr. Taylor knows exactly what Mr. Taylor was up to.”

Asked if he could identify the person he’d had sex with, D.N. said “absolutely” and pointed across the courtroom at the defendant.

D.N. is expected to continue his testimony Wednesday.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

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