'HIV Predator' Served Time For Crime But May be Confined for Life

The man sentenced to 12 years in prison for knowingly infecting 13 women and girls with the HIV virus has done his time but remains held in an upstate New York prison with no prospect for release, because authorities have deemed him to be a danger to society.

Nushawn Williams was dubbed the "HIV Predator" when he was convicted of having unprotected sex with young women and teens, some as young as 13, and infecting them in 1996 when getting the virus was considered a virtual death sentence.

Officials are refusing to let him out of Erie County's Wende Correctional Facility under the state Civil Confinement Law. Williams' lawyer Daniel Grasso is arguing in court papers that the law was enacted after his client's conviction and shouldn't apply.

"The real problem in the public eye is the HIV issue, that he transmitted HIV to individuals. They allege he did it knowingly, but to this day he tells me he wasn't really sure," Grasso said in an interview with ABC News.

Chautauqua County County health officials say they discovered that Williams was infected with the HIV virus when he was arrested in 1996 for petit larceny and was undergoing standard medical tests before entering a lock-up. They informed him immediately, they said.

Williams, then 19, was released on a conditional discharge and allegedly continued to have unprotected sex with women as he bounced between New York City and Jamestown, an industrial town in the mostly rural Western New York area 400 miles from the city. Health officials claim he is responsible for starting what some called a "one man HIV epidemic." Authorities alleged in court documents Williams was a drug dealer, and would prey on mostly disaffected teens in the small upstate town supplying them with drugs and gifts, even physical violence, to keep them under his control.

Williams Set Off HIV Epidemic in Upstate New York Town

As young women and girls in Jamestown began showing up at county health clinics testing positive for HIV between March and August of 1996, medical officials lead by Dr. Robert Burke were eventually able to draw a connection to Williams, court records show.

The health department issued a county wide alert that October, splashing Williams' picture along with his known aliases and a warning about the HIV virus to try and draw more potential infected victims out, dropping what Burke described in reports as a "bomb" on the county as over 1,000 people lined up to get themselves tested.

"People were standing in line on the streets waiting for HIV testing at the time," Christine Schuyler, Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Heath said in an interview with ABC News.

Court records show officials were able to determine Williams had sex with at least 43 women in the Jamestown area, and 28 in New York City while infected, passing the virus to 13 people including a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old. Since that time, according to records, at least two of those who Williams allegedly infected gave birth to children infected with the HIV virus. Williams himself bragged in a 1999 television interview that his number of sexual conquests was more like "200 to 300."

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