A gay British hairdresser is accused of deliberately infecting his sexual partners after he sent them a text saying “I have HIV LOL.”
One of his former lovers testified before the Lewes Crown Court in Britain last week that Daryll Rowe, a hairdresser, sent him a text indicating that he was infected with the deadly illness. The 26-year-old is accused of demanding unprotected sex from at least ten male partners, claiming to be free of the virus. He is also accused of tampering with the condom when they insisted he used one.
The practice, which is referred to as “stealthing,” is up for consideration as a form of rape in the United States by lawmakers. Victims of the sexual assault “trend” have been speaking out about their experiences throughout multiple publications this year.
According to a report in The Independent Monday, Rowe is charged with infecting four men with the virus and attempting to infect a further six between October 2015 and December 2016. Rowe tested positive for HIV in April 2015.
The case against Rowe in Britain follows in the wake of California’s recent decision to decriminalize the deliberate spread of HIV down to a misdemeanor charge.
According to multiple alleged victims, Rowe sent mocking text messages to them informing them that he was in fact HIV positive and that they could be at risk. His first alleged victim told the court that he received a text message from Rowe saying: “Maybe you have the fever. I have HIV LOL. Oops!”
The court heard that Rowe, originally from Edinburgh, was living and working in Brighton as a hairdresser at the time of the first alleged offenses. He went on the lam to the North East while under investigation by the police, where he allegedly tried to infect two more men with the deadly illness.
Rowe met the first complainant on the gay dating app Grindr in October 2015. The complainant told Rowe that he had just moved to Brighton and didn’t know anyone.
The alleged victim described his encounter with Rowe, which happened in a car. The complainant said he was frightened of Rowe but believed him when he said he was HIV free. “He asked for sex and I gave him oral sex. He asked for more and I said no and he started to get angry,” he told police.
“He wasn’t threatening to punch me, he wasn’t huffing and puffing, but he was saying: ‘You need to if we’re going to be together, I need someone who’s spontaneous,’” he continued. “I was saying: ‘I don’t really want to do it. It’s horrible to do it in a car in the middle of nowhere.’ I was getting angry. It was horrible really – I just felt like I had to do it.”
The alleged victim later agreed to unprotected sex, but stopped when a cyclist rode by the car. When he refused to continue having sex, Rowe admonished him for wasting his time. He says that Rowe refused to get out of the car after being driven home and tried to coerce him into having public sex behind some garbage bins.
“It felt like an hour with him just going on and on. I felt very vulnerable. I didn’t know anyone around (that area),” he said, adding that he believed Rowe would assault him if he resisted. He only managed to get out of the situation after promising to meet up with him again.
When he refused to fulfill his promise, Rowe sent him a barrage of abusive text messages, culminating in the text informing the complainant that he was HIV positive.
Rowe’s alleged victim tested negative for HIV prior to meeting Rowe, and had no sex partners in between the time of the test and the encounter. A subsequent follow-up in January 2016 diagnosed him as positive for the virus. He believes Rowe infected him.
Doctors who treated Rowe told the court that he refused anti-retroviral drugs that slow the development of the virus and make him less contagious. They also say that the four men Rowe is accused of infecting with HIV all show similar strains to the one he carries, making him a likely source for their illness.