US man with HIV allegedly sought out women on Bumble for unprotected sex

Rudolph Jericho Smith
Rudolph Jericho Smith has been charged with knowingly transferring HIV to another person. Photo credit: Frederick County Police

A US man who used dating apps to find women for unprotected sex despite allegedly knowing he was HIV-positive has been arrested.

On Monday (local time), Rudolph Jericho Smith was charged following an almost two-year-long investigation in Frederick County, Maryland.

In July 2017, local police received a tip-off that Smith was looking for women on various dating apps and websites to have unprotected sex with.

Local newspaper the Frederick News-Post reports Smith had been aware of his diagnosis as HIV-positive since 2014.

The woman who first alerted police to Smith's activity said she tested positive for HIV after she had sex with him.

As their investigation progressed, police identified three more alleged victims who had sex with Smith. One woman said she met him on dating app Bumble, one met him through the now-defunct online marketplace Backpage and one met him offline.

It was a long road to Smith's arrest due to the highly sensitive nature of the case, as well as the difficulty police had in tracking down the alleged victims through various dating sites.

Lt Kirk Henneberry told the Frederick News-Post detectives on the investigation had to file requests for medical records to be able to confirm the timeline of Smith's alleged offending.

Smith was indicted on four charges of assault in the first degree, reckless endangerment and knowingly transferring HIV to another person.

That last charge alone carries a US$2500 (NZ$3720) fine, and is punishable by up to three years in prison.

While it is very rare, the charge has been filed in Frederick County before, the State Attorney told the Frederick News-Post.

"It only comes up every several years that we'll see a case like this," Charlie Smith said.

But in order to convict him, prosecutors will have to bring air-tight evidence that Smith knew he was HIV-positive when he had sex with the women.

Anyone who may have had sex with Smith around or after July 2017 is urged to contact police.


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