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Man charged in HIV case

He’s accused of not telling woman of status

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PROVO — Criminal charges have been filed against a Provo man who allegedly failed to report his HIV status to a sex partner.

Michael Leroy Behrens, 42, was charged Thursday in Provo's 4th District Court with communications fraud, a second-degree felony, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Behrens made an appearance in court Friday morning before Judge Anthony Schofield. He was given a copy of the charges against him. Schofield also declared him indigent and assigned a public defender to act as legal counsel.

Behrens was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail Jan. 15 after his estranged wife called police to report that Behrens was at a motel with another woman.

Provo police spokeswoman Karen Mayne said Behrens' wife told police she was concerned the woman wasn't aware her husband may be infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

A police officer was sent to the Amenity Motor Inn, 40 W. 300 South, and advised the woman of the wife's claims, according to police.

About an hour later, police officials said, the woman contacted police to file a report.

At this point, law officials do not have solid evidence that Behrens is, in fact, infected with HIV. They only have his wife's statement.

A search warrant is expected to be issued today for a blood draw to conduct an HIV test.

Prosecutors say the blood will be tested within the next few days. If the tests come back negative, charges are expected to be dropped and Behrens will likely be released, said Deputy Utah County Attorney David Wayment.

Wayment said the woman claims she asked Behrens if he had tested positive for HIV and that Behrens told her no.

Prosecutors have struggled to find an appropriate charge because Utah's criminal code doesn't deal specifically with disclosure of HIV status between two consenting adults.

In 1993, lawmakers allowed prosecutors to enhance the penalty.

They can charge men and women infected with HIV with an additional third-degree felony if convicted of prostitution, soliciting prostitution or soliciting for sex. Wayment said the law appears to only apply to cases of prostitution.

Wayment said some form of felony charge was warranted because the man's sexual partner must wait several "agonizing" months waiting for her HIV test to see if she has been infected.

Behrens continues to be held in the Utah County Jail on $10,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for further proceedings.

E-MAIL: gfattah@desnews.com