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Posted: 4:18 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3, 2012

Man faces charges of exposing two women to HIV

By Tammy Joyner and Shelia Poole

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two metro Atlanta women have accused a Clayton County man of exposing them to HIV, details of which have gone global on the Internet and stoked fears of a serial philanderer infecting unsuspecting women.

Police say Craig Lamar Davis may have exposed an Atlanta woman and a Union City woman to the potentially deadly virus. One of the women says she has tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is illegal in Georgia to knowingly expose someone to HIV. The Union City woman declined to talk about the case. Efforts to reach the Atlanta woman were unsuccessful.

Davis is out on bond in both cases and awaiting the completion of grand jury investigations in Fulton and Clayton counties, which could take months. Through his attorney Davis denies some of the charges.

Police and court records and an interview with Davis’ attorney show that Davis, 41, met the Union City woman online on a social networking site. That woman claimed Davis is a married pastor, a description included in online accounts of Davis’ arrest. The idea of a pastor spreading the virus to church members is part of the reason the case has drawn such outrage in the Atlanta area and elsewhere. But Davis, who marked his first wedding anniversary on Sunday, denies through his attorney that he is a pastor.

Still, the case is a grim reminder of how HIV remains a public health threat. Public health experts say lax attitudes about the threat of HIV contribute to the continued spread of the disease despite slowing infection rates among other groups.

This is especially true among African-Americans. While African-Americans represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for nearly half of people living with HIV and of new infections each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime, as will one in 32 black women. Black women account for 30 percent of new HIV infections. Davis and the women he is accused of exposing to HIV are all African-American.

Davis was arrested in mid-July by Atlanta police, said John Turner, his attorney. The Union City woman told authorities that Davis had sex with her four times before telling her he was infected, according to a report filed with the Clayton police. Authorities discovered Davis was wanted in Fulton on a similar offense.

In that case, the Fulton woman alleges she had been celibate for 15 years before engaging in a sexual relationship with Davis, Turner said. Police records show she said she tested positive for the HIV virus in January and filed a police report in April, a month before Davis allegedly began a sexual relationship with the Union City woman.

Davis was initially taken to Fulton’s jail, where he posted bond for reckless conduct, a misdemeanor. He then was transported to Clayton’s jail, where he stayed until early August before posting a $3,000 bond. He is charged with reckless-HIV, a felony that carries a sentence of one to 10 years. Reckless-HIV charges are rare, authorities said.

Turner said the facts in the case are more complex than what’s in police records.

“There’s a lot of factual inaccuracies,” Turner said, noting that Davis told him he never had sex with the Union City woman and “that’s what we intend to prove in court.”

Turner said the case is one of the most unusual he has ever dealt with.

“I’ve been practicing [law] 40 years and I’ve seen a lot of crazy situations,” he said, “and this would be in the top three.”

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