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Missouri man charged with spreading HIV says he had 300 partners

Thursday, September 5, 2013 | 7:55 p.m. CDT
David Mangum, who told authorities he had sexual contact with as many 300 people since his HIV diagnosis, pleaded not guilty Thursday to infecting another man with the virus.

DEXTER, Mo. — A Missouri man who told authorities he had sexual contact with as many 300 people since being diagnosed with HIV pleaded not guilty on Thursday to infecting another man with the virus, and prosecutors said more charges are expected.

David Mangum entered the plea after being charged with recklessly infecting another with HIV, which in Missouri, where penalties for such crimes are among the nation's harshest, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. His attorney didn't return messages seeking comment.

Court documents allege that the 36-year-old told detectives in Dexter, a small town in southeast Missouri, that he had unprotected sex with as many as 300 partners since his HIV diagnosis a decade ago. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Authorities said up to 60 of those contacts occurred after he moved to Missouri two years ago from Dallas, where he has convictions for prostitution, indecent exposure and public lewdness.

Many of his trysts stemmed from Craigslist ads, he told investigators, and he would meet with men at parks, truck stops and other remote locations. Police believe many were truckers or others passing through the region, and because Mangum had little information about many of the men, investigators are concerned about finding potential victims, Dexter police detective Cory Mills said.

"First names with no phone numbers or addresses — that's going to be a challenge," Mills said.

So authorities turned to the media, and since then, more potential victims have come forward, Stoddard County prosecutor Russell Oliver said. Oliver wouldn't say how many people, but he said more charges were expected.

Local health clinics are reporting a recent surge in people seeking HIV tests. In Stoddard County, where one or two people generally get tested each week, 15 people came in for testing in the past week, said Debbie Pleimling, director of the county's Health Department. Neighboring counties are reporting a spike.

"There has to be concern," she said. "If he's randomly meeting people for sex, we have no clue where to turn."

Local authorities said they were also working with Dallas police, who didn't return several messages from The Associated Press.

It's unclear why Mangum moved to Dexter, a conservative town of about 8,000 residents. He worked at a local grocery store, Mills said, but little else is known about him.

"Everyone's really surprised that sort of thing is going on here," said Charlie Parrish, a local barbershop owner.

This summer, Mangum admitted to a roommate with whom he'd been intimate that he had been HIV-positive since 2003, authorities said. The man went in for testing and learned he was HIV-positive, then went to police.

Mills said Mangum seemed unapologetic and told police he wasn't truthful for "fear of rejection."

Magnum is jailed on $250,000 cash-only bond. A preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 26.

Missouri is one of 37 states that make it a crime to knowingly transmit HIV to others, and its penalties are among the toughest: a maximum sentence of life in prison if the victim was infected with HIV, and up to 15 years in prison if the victim was exposed.

In 2007, Angela Harris of St. Charles was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having unprotected sex with her then-boyfriend and failing to tell him she was HIV-positive. The former boyfriend didn't test positive for HIV. Cases have also been prosecuted in St. Louis, Springfield and rural Marshfield, where in 1999 a 21-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison for deliberately exposing a woman to HIV.

HIV and AIDS cases aren't broken down by county in Missouri. But for the 13-county Southeast region, Pleimling said 137 people are known to be living with HIV and an additional 174 with AIDS. A dozen cases were diagnosed in the region last year.


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Comments

Corey Parks September 5, 2013 | 9:38 p.m.

300 Partners or 300 sheep?
In all seriousness could a guy like that really pull in 300 different partners in his entire lifetime?

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