crimesider

Darren Chiacchia, Olympic Equestrian, Charged with Exposing Unknowing Partner to H.I.V.

NEW YORK (CBS) Olympic equestrian Darren Chiacchia, a bronze medalist who suffered a terrible horse-jumping fall in 2008, is charged with exposing his former partner to H.I.V. multiple times without telling him of his condition.

Chiacchia, of Ocala, Florida, has pleaded not guilty, and faces up to 30 years in prison under Florida law, according The New York Times. He's facing a June trial, after being arrested this winter by the Marion County Sheriff's Office. His former male sexual partner filed a complaint, claiming he found medical records stating Chiacchia was positive for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, and never told him, according to new newspaper.

Chiacchia is known for helping the U.S. equestrian team win an Olympic bronze medal in 2004. He was then preparing for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when his horse fell over a jump breaking several bones, causing brain injuries and putting the forty-five year old in a coma. The Times reports officials said it was during this time in the hospital that he found out he was H.I.V. positive.

The Sheriff's Office and prosecutors then subpoenaed Chiacchia's medical records, interviewed friends, and collected text and e-mail messages to investigate.

The New York Times reports that in a 2009 e-mail, Chiacchia told his ex-partner he kept his medical history a secret because he did not trust him. "I could not share with you and have you leave me with this information about me," he wrote.

A Florida law passed in 1997 says people with H.I.V. must inform their sexual partners of their condition otherwise it is considered a felony, said the paper. According to the newspaper, Florida is one of at least 32 states that have criminal statues specific to people with H.I.V.

The paper reports that Chiacchia's former partner tested negative for H.I.V. before August 2009, but it has not been determined whether he has since tested positive for the virus.