Posted Strictly as a Cautionary Tale...

elph's picture

I wanted to scream when I read this news item this morning... but no one would have heard me. Silent tears, however, were shed:

Two very unwise decisions are reported here. I desperately hope that no Oasis member will ever find him/herself in such a vulnerable situation.

15 years old! :(


radiosilence95's picture

I'm confused...

So this man was arrested for attempted murder because he had unprotected sex when he was HIV positive? So...they consider any HIV patient that has unprotected sex a potential murderer? Huh. I didn't know that.

Tycoondashkid's picture

from what i understand

he had unprotected sex, give the other one HIV and then attempted to murder him, so he gave someone AIDS then tried to kill them.

but i think i missed something

elph's picture

Not quite right...

I do not think the boy was physically threatened.

There were 2 crimes, however, committed by Sumlin: (1) engaging in unprotected sex while knowingly infected with HIV, and (2) involving an underage teen in sex. The boy admitted (as per the report) to Sumlin that he was under 18.

All exceedingly sad! Many lessons here...

elph's picture

As I understand it...

If someone knows that he is infected with HIV and he engages in unprotected sex, he is guilty of a crime. Whether that crime is attempted murder, may be subject to debate.

But Sumlin's actions were even more egregious because he knowingly involved a 15-year-old boy...

I have tremendous sympathy for the boy... but there's no denying that he also behaved exceedingly unwisely!

I hope that all Oasies acknowledge the lesson contained herein: Don't allow your hormones to overpower rational judgment!

Sex should be enjoyed; this is impossible, however, if you're tempting fate at the same time!

jeff's picture


Cautionary tale is fine, but this is a dumb law. If you consent to have sex with someone, and you have unprotected sex, I think you are also assuming the risk that you could be infected.

Attempted murder is completely ridiculous, although I'd also question whether anything but the statutory rape charge is merited here.

If you have unprotected sex with anyone, you are consenting to risk. The most infectious people are people who don't know they are positive, so the notion that you can know whether someone is HIV+ or not is already folly.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Bosemaster42's picture


How do they define attempted murder in Florida? Gross negligence would seem more appropriate. The statutory rape charge is valid.
The fact this guy was recording what he was doing and flaunting the fact he was HIV+ is somewhat disturbing. It could be argued his actions were pre-meditated as well. The law is definately flawed.

elph's picture


Yes, the headline attempted murder was hyperbolic and left a bit too much to the reader’s imagination. The actual charge against Sumlin seems to be: “lewd and lascivious molestation and attempted second-degree murder.”

Considering the circumstances as I know them (strictly from press comments… which should not be treated as facts), I have no qualm with charging Sumlin with attempted murder (don’t know much about the appropriate qualifying adjectives for this charge --- like “second-degree”).

A short summary of the actual law in Florida is:

Unlawful for person with HIV, with knowledge both of their infection and risk of sexual transmission, to have sex without disclosure and consent having taken place.

But… even more disturbing to me is the very stupid and reckless behavior of the 15-year-old: Having initiated(?) this tryst via a cell phone app.

Sumlin is guilty of a genuine crime (let the courts figure out exactly what that may have been); unless it is shown that the boy suffered from a compromised intellect, he also deserves extreme censure:

Therein lies the cautionary tale which I hope all Oasis readers can soberly take cognizance of!

For readers who’d like to be better informed on the present international status of this legal quagmire, I strongly suggest reading this detailed article on the subject:

jeff's picture

Well, yes...

I'm not arguing that the law exists, just that it is a stupid law that shouldn't exist.

So, yes, this guy is guilty of breaking the law, but that doesn't mean it is a worthwhile law.

If anything, it muddies the water, which is that unprotected sex is a bad idea and that it is up to anyone who engages in sexual activity to protect themselves, rather than have the government do it for you after the fact.

That would seem to be the main takeaway.

If someone puts themselves at risk, a law is of little comfort if they do indeed seroconvert.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

elph's picture


Laws do not exist to provide "comfort" for anyone!

The rationale for laws is 2-fold:

(1) to (hopefully) discourage one from engaging in a particular societally egregious behavior, and

(2) to ascribe a societally approved procedure (through the courts and due process) for dealing with an individual that has transgressed that law

It seems that your main "take away" from this tragic event is that the law under which Sumlin is currently being charged is "stupid and shouldn't exist."

Well… that may be… it is, however, a quite idiosyncratic view! And, until something better comes along (and, it will), it's the law Florida owns.

It was my hope, however, that discussion (if any) of my post would have focused on the questionable judgment and actions of the participants…. because therein lies the cautionary tale!

Without citing individuals or incidents… we have witnessed Oasies (at least 2 come to mind... there may be others) who have recently (past 2 years) described within these pages both their fears and chastening from suspected HIV infection. To the best of my knowledge, both ended well… but the utter fear and anguish they must have endured while waiting the verdict I'd wish on no one… especially for a teen who otherwise should not be denied a very promising future!

swimmerguy's picture

I'd point out

What the man did was reckless, but contrary to what seems logical, HIV, despite how terrible it is, really does not transmit easily.
Attempts to estimate the risk per unprotected sexual act have given many different numbers, but generally, it appears that even the riskiest type of sex act with an HIV-positive person(unprotected receptive anal sex with ejaculation) carries a risk of on average, <3%, or about 1.7%.
(So many HIV cases occur because a lot of people have unprotected sex every day with HIV-positive people, and statistically, if a hundred people do, about 2 will get infected too.)
That means the man, even if he was reckless, still by no means had a certainty the boy would be infected. The chances were actually quite small, and the boy got unbelievably unlucky to get HIV in his (presumably) first unprotected sex.

I think if you're going to charge a man with attempted murder of any kind, it has to be intentionally posing a large risk of someone else's death, with the sole purpose of causing their death.
I'm not sure, but I'd guess this man probably wasn't intentionally trying to infect this boy with HIV (which had a low probability anyway), probably that he was just looking for unprotected sexual gratification and he didn't care that he had HIV or the boy might get it.
That would seem more reckless behavior than malicious, and at most you could give him some reckless endangerment or manslaughter charge, and I think I might agree if they'd given those charges to him.

elph's picture

You've stated it precisely... I see it (despite an attempt to erroneously place us in conflict)!

jeff's picture


I covered the criminal justice system for years, so I've seen first-hand that people use the law for their own comfort and closure all the time. People attach justice as a step in their closure. Even families of murder victims will weigh the length and severity of the sentence to whether they can finally move on or whether their dead relative is now at peace. So, whether the law exists for that purpose, it is used for that purpose. Similarly, if this 15-year-old were to be HIV+, people would then hope this guy paid for his trangression, etc.

Otherwise, the safe sex/cautionary tale message isn't anything I don't know/practice, so the dumb law was the only bit that interested me, yes. People who needed the cautionary tale/reminder can have that be their takeaway. You can't really decide what the focus of the comments would be once you post something.

Also, as for anguish and fear regarding HIV testing, people should stop using that "we'll call you next week" blood test version and go for rapid HIV saliva swab testing when it's an option. It is less conclusive than the longer version, but if you test negative you're off the hook, and only if you test positive do you then need the complete blood version, and it may be a false positive. So, it does suck more for false positive people, who then have more reason to worry... for the vast majority of negatives, it's a relief.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Tycoondashkid's picture

also to add

some hospitals you can get a morning after pill for HIV/AIDs but the side effects are horrible and your only meant to take it when you have been exposed to it you can take it up to 72 hours after exposer

elph's picture


Being infected with HIV is no longer an almost certain precursor to an imminent (and likely painful) death from AIDS. With quick attention, full blown AIDs now stands a very good chance of being averted... but success requires close diligence!

Regrettably... this medical advance has also contributed to the resurgence of unprotected sex (of particular concern are those activities which by their nature are the most efficient in transferring the HIV virus...).

jeff's picture


This medical advance has had absolutely no bearing on a rise in unprotected sex. Since the beginning of the epidemic, there has never been a tipping point.

On average, for every person who seroconverts, they are still infecting more than one other person (usually unknowingly) and have been doing so since the beginning of the epidemic.

No safe sex campaign, drug cocktail, or anything else has even got us past the tipping point.

Not to mention, HIV meds may extend one's life, but it is still a hell of a disease to manage. Avoiding it altogether is the best strategy.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

elph's picture

A slight, but nuanced correction

"This medical advance has had absolutely no bearing on a rise in unprotected sex.

Statistics do show, however, that despite medical advances, there appears to be no concomitant diminishment in newly reported instances of HIV infection. If this is what you meant, I'm in full agreement.

It is unknown (essentially, unknowable), however, the degree to which medical advances may contribute to one's rationalizing that unprotected sex has become much less risky than it was just a few short years ago when HIV was tantamount to a sentence of certain death!

Upon your prodding, I indeed do acknowledge that my suggesting a "resurgence" in the prevalence of unprotected sex (in light of medical advances) has no foundation in any current knowable statistics! This assertion was nothing more than a personal assumption. :(

Much of what I wanted to add here (particularly on the quite low chance of unprotected sex --- even with an HIV-infected partner --- actually leading to infection) has been quite adequately covered (above) by swimmerguy. But... it would be extremely unwise to take comfort from this knowledge!

jeff's picture


Yes, that is the tipping point argument, which you can find... right here on Oasis! hehe:

I would argue the fetishistic rise of bareback porn, which heralds the lack of condoms, is far more likely a cause than younger people making decisions based on medical advances or healthy HIV+ people.

I don't see why you think any contrary view on here is advocacy of unprotected sex being OK, a claim that neither I nor swimmerguy is making. Knowledge is better than fear, so knowing the chances are low if you do slip up, or a condom breaks, etc., is actually comforting to also know.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

elph's picture

This accusation is so far out in left field...

"I don't see why you think any contrary view on here is advocacy of unprotected sex being OK, a claim that neither I nor swimmerguy is making."

Where in the world did this bizarre idea about my thought processes spring from?

Can you quote anything I have said here that would lend even the slightest credence to this comment? Neither through innuendo nor directly have I ever felt or stated that you (and certainly not swimmerguy) were championing unprotected sex.


As an aside... Oasies (I think this reference is swimmerguy's long-abandoned creation) should understand that I have no qualms about "unprotected sex" in pursuit of some of the most prevalent forms of libidinal release and expressions of affection between two people (whether lovers or mere acquaintances; gay or heterosexual)... with the proviso that each has reason to have full confidence (not necessarily a notarized affidavit!) in the other's sexual health. Probably the most common of these activities apart from heterosexual intercourse or individual masturbation would very likely be any of the many possible variants on mutual masturbation... followed closely by passionate embraces, kisses, cunnilingus and/or "blow jobs."

But... full confidence and faith in one's sexual partner is imperative if sex without protection is pursued! Highest marks, however, still go to spontaneity and freedom from any barrier device!

I'm not a prude... and I'm deeply hurt by being characterized as such before my many friends here on Oasis. Or... am I just too close to meeting my maker to even think that I should ever warrant acceptance from other Oasies...

May be... truthfully, dunno...


Afterthought: Am I critical of Sumlin's proud refusal to wear a condom? Most definitely!

jeff's picture


You seem to keep refocusing any tangents back to the cautionary tale, as though that was something we're missing, when I think we all just get that bit and have latched onto other aspects of the article as more comment-worthy or debatable. Any time you re-reference cautionary tale seems to be doing that out of "let's get this back to the point I wanted to make..." unless I am misreading it.

Whether prude is appropriate I won't debate, since I think that comes down to what you do in your own personal life and, hence, your own business.

But it is safe to say you don't approve of all sexual activity, unless analingus or anal sex just happened to slip your mind two paragraphs earlier. One imagines it was intentional, since cunnilingus is analingus' next door neighbor (although, always remember C before A, never A before C). So, I think I'm more concerned that your personal tastes influence what you are wanting to reference in regards to sexual activity.

If you're going to spark a safe sex debate on here, it is important to be inclusive of any ways people might and do engage sexually so they feel free to ask questions so that they can be safe in no matter what activity they choose to partake. Otherwise, people might not ask questions that could help them.

There needs to be a separation from what sexual things exist and what sexual things you are into personally, since the point here is a greater good and keeping people safe. Especially considering you removed one of the main avenues for HIV infection within a safe sex debate prompted by an article about unprotected anal sex?! If you're ranking them, put it at the top of the transmission list. That would be accurate. But include it.

I could easily point out that several Oasis people have had anal sex recently, some for the first time, most within their first few times (and several mentioned it to me in pm/Facebook, in case it didn't also appear in their journals on here), so I think it is our role to advise them how to do what they are already doing (and seemingly interested in) safely, rather than ending the list of approved activities at blow jobs.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Bosemaster42's picture


is the real issue here. The knowledge of these treatments shouldn't give rise to a person suddenly engaging in unprotected sex. That would seem ridiculous. It's akin to playing Russian Roulette with your cock. The victim in this case is not a very bright individual for his actions. The accused was indeed willful in his actions and deserves what he gets. Obviously, this guy is attempting to infect others, perhaps in an attempt to share his misery?

Uncertain's picture

I always wonder whether we

I always wonder whether we should have mandatory HIV tests for all individuals, reguarly. It seems like the issue isn't the lack of information, but reckless behaviour from unknowning individuals. There are malicious people out there, but I think most infections are done either with no knowledge or through wilful blindness.

Tycoondashkid's picture

i always though every week people should get tests for stuff

i do, i mean not for HIV, but for everything physical

Bosemaster42's picture


It would make sense to do this through yearly physicals with a PCP. I get a physical every year and they take 3 or 4 vials of blood. I assume they send these samples to a lab for particular tests. Of course, I never asked what they actually use these samples for, but I don't think they test you for HIV. I believe it's performed by request of the patient.
If your 18 or older, you can donate blood and they test for everything now.

jeff's picture


Then what? Someone who knows they are HIV+ doesn't mean they will tell their partners. What would be next? Mandatory "HIV+" tattoos? ;-)

It will always be up to people to act like everyone is potentially HIV+ that they sleep with, and mitigate their risk as much as possible.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Bosemaster42's picture

No, of course not.

I would like to believe the infected individual would be compelled to honesty, but I also understand many would opt otherwise. I agree it's the responsibility of the person engaging to assume the worst. Better to be safe than sorry later.

jeff's picture


Honesty isn't always truth.

A person who says they are negative may be telling what they believe is true, but they got tested before enough antibodies built up for the test to detect, or they became positive after their last test but "know" everyone after that was "negative" so they feel "safe."

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Bosemaster42's picture


that's a good point. I was referring specifically to someone already infected, who chooses not to tell the truth about being infected. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on that. Regardless, I still believe it's best to be safe.

swimmerguy's picture

I was wondering...

what you guys thought about a question I had, particularly Jeff.
We've mostly been talking about consensual sex here, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it.
Because a lot of people do a lot of high risk behaviors. But even, say, if you're a drug dealer or something else similar, and you, for example, follow someone into a dark alley to sell them drugs, when they ambush you and beat and kill you to steal your drugs, you'd have a significant amount of responsibility, because there's a lot of inherent risks to drug dealing, murder being a logical risk that you accept, and yet we still punish the murderer just as harshly as if they'd murdered an innocent, non-risky person, meaning the risk the innocent person incurs is irrelevant to punishing the offender.
So I think that if you're an HIV-positive person and recklessly have unprotected sex with people and infect them, you shouldn't get punished because of the shared burden of risk in unprotected sex, but if you intentionally have sex with them just to infect them (even though sex is, comparably, a very poor way to spread such a fragile yet dangerous virus), you should be punished because of the malicious intent, regardless of the risks they incur by having sex with you.
Although, in practice, that'd be very difficult to prosecute.
The moral? Don't have unprotected sex with anyone you don't regularly check the HIV status of.

But I had a different question, should an HIV-positive rapist who infects a rape victim, whether intentionally to infect them, or just recklessly not caring, be punished more severely than an HIV-negative rapist, because the potential for harm to the victim is greater, even if they can't do anything about that?

elph's picture

You have indicated particular interest... Jeff's view.

I'm duly chastened, but will look forward to reading his response.

btw: Very good questions; I wouldn't have expected less!

swimmerguy's picture

I'm sorry

if you took that to mean I have no interest in your view. I only singled Jeff out because I thought it would be particularly interesting, since he thinks people should not be punished for transmitting HIV consensually, what he thinks about punishing more harshly for transmitting HIV unconsensually.
I'd be interested to hear your view as well :P

elph's picture

Thank you...

Coming from one with little familiarity with laws and their application, it is with some trepidation that I offer my current view on the questions raised:

In the hypothetical instance of a drug dealer being murdered… the murderer should be subject to the same laws as apply to others irrespective of the character of the victim. We should not condone vigilantism.

In the instance of one knowing that he’s HIV+ and as a direct result of a sexual encounter the virus is passed on to another, he should be charged with having committed a crime. To be found guilty, the burden upon the prosecution is to establish that he/she had been officially informed (by medical authorities) of his being HIV+. The actual punishment should be mitigated if the defense can show that the victim’s history is such as to suggest that the infection could have been acquired from other encounters. Whether “protection” was used or not should not be a factor in deciding the verdict.

This leads to the question: To what extent (if any) should an HIV+ be restricted by law to refrain from all sexual encounters? I have no well-formed view on this; it’s a thorny issue…

The HIV+ rapist should be subject to the laws that apply to (1) rape, and (2) to any existing law that may restrict the sexual activity of one who is knowingly infected with HIV. Punishment of the guilty should be in accordance with those 2 laws. I think the “potential for harm” issue is adequately covered in the law and should not lead to “enhanced” punishment.

Bosemaster42's picture

Don't feel slighted Keith,

I understood the point you were trying to make. I would hope most people on here would have the common sense to exercise caution.
I also believe there's more to this story than what appeared in the paper.

jeff's picture


Why do people assume I don't get the other person's point when there is any online tussle? I get it. ;-)

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

elph's picture

Assumptions spring from the mind

If one feels persecuted when not met with 100% agreement, I'm indeed sorry.

If you're pointing at me (too much innuendo to tell), I'll try harder to be more considerate of sensitivities. OK?

Btw... it's not my nature to insist upon have the last word; I can tell when it's time to "take the horse to the renderer."

Bosemaster42's picture

I wasn't assuming,

you didn't understand his point. You made that clear in your statements.
I figured you disagreed with Keith for not having a problem with Sumlin being charged with attempted murder

Bosemaster42's picture

Good question,

Rape is Rape. You would think the law would come down harder on the HIV+ rapist, especially if the law is similiar to the one Florida has. I suppose the argument in the courts would attempt to define the difference between 'Recklessly not caring' and intention.

jeff's picture

I'd think...

First of all, based on the number of rape trials I covered, I highly doubt the HIV status of the rapist would be allowed, unless perhaps there is some law like this one on the books where it happened. Typically anything outside of the actual charges that could prejudice a judge/jury isn't allowed.

For example, one serial rapist trial I covered, the prosecution wasn't allowed to mention he had been accused/found guilty of rape before. So, if the issue were whether a rape occurred, you wouldn't typically get to add HIV to the mix, as well.

I also think, in the case of a rape victim, it would be more of an issue if he/she became HIV+ as a result, since the trial would occur quite some time after the incident itself, so it wouldn't be an unknown thing at that point. The ability of the victim to become HIV+ is less relevant if it didn't happen.

But barring a separate criminal charge being available for the HIV aspect, I'd say it shouldn't play a role in the rape charge, unless there is some level of rape or other sexual crime that can account for variables like this.

Now, if there was no criminal avenue available, and the victim was HIV+ as a result, a separate civil lawsuit could be filed for damages, whether it is to cover medical costs, loss of income, quality of life, or whatever else. Of course, whether winning a civil lawsuit would matter would depend greatly on the rapist's ability to pay if he/she lost.

For a non-rape example, if a drunk driver ran you off the road, and you lost a limb in the crash, that wouldn't necessarily add a separate criminal charge (although it would definitely ratchet all the criminal charges available up to their maximum level). But the payback for that loss would typically be a civil matter, which would get to include that the person was already found guilty of the crime in a criminal case.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (