Michael Johnson (pictured) was a star wrestler at Lindenwood University, a private university in St. Charles, MO. He tested positive for HIV in January 2013. According to prosecutors, he had unprotected sex with multiple men in his dorm room between the time he tested positive and October 2013, when he was arrested. As a result, they say, he infected at least two men and exposed several others to the virus.
“He didn’t just fail to disclose his status,” assistant St. Charles County prosecutor Philip Groenweghe told the jury at the opening of Johnson’s trial yesterday. “When he was specifically asked if he was clean… he lied.”
The 23-year-old athlete allegedly found his sex partners on social media and dating apps, using the screen name “Tiger Mandingo.” When police confiscated his laptop, they found 32 home videos of him having unprotected sex, often in his dorm room, with other guys.
Two of Johnson’s alleged victims testified against him. Both men said they agreed to have sex without a condom, but only after Johnson told them he didn’t have any protection. One of the men said he asked if Johnson was “clean,” and the wrestling champ replied yes, even though he wasn’t.
Friends and relatives of Johnson have described him as “barely literate” and “naive” about HIV and HIV transmission. Meanwhile, activists say he’s been unfairly persecuted because of his medical condition.
Johnson told BuzzFeed, “My dream for my life is to continue with college, get my bachelor’s degree, and become a role model for people that are struggling to be gay, just as I was struggling.”
If convicted, he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison on felony charges, plus an additional 5 and 15 years on four other charges.