うさぎとルナ (Usagi and Luna), graphite pencil on notebook paper, 2014, 9 × 6 in. (22.86 × 15.24 cm.).

うさぎと美奈子 (Usagi and Minako), graphite pencil on notebook paper, 2014, 9 × 6 in. (22.86 × 15.24 cm.).

Nick Rhoades sits on the front steps of his house in Waterloo, Iowa on Thursday, November 7, 2013. (Stephen Mally for ProPublica)

Iowa Court Tosses Sentence in H.I.V. Exposure Case

By Sergio Hernandez, Special to ProPublica

After a three-year legal battle, Iowa’s highest court has thrown out the sentence of Nick Rhoades, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration for criminal transmission of H.I.V.

Rhoades, whose case was central to a ProPublica investigation published last year, pleaded guilty to the charge in 2009 after failing to inform a one-time sexual partner that he was H.I.V.-positive.

The investigation, co-published with BuzzFeed, found 541 cases across 19 states in which defendants were convicted or pleaded guilty to similar crimes. Some incurred harsh penalties even though they had not infected anyone or had used protective measures, such as wearing condoms or taking antiviral drugs that reduced the risk of transmitting H.I.V. Continue reading

25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Nomination

Very honored to announce that my ProPublica/BuzzFeed story on HIV criminalization has been nominated for the 2014 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article.

Congratulations to my fellow nominees, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner, The Advocate, Sports Illustrated’s Loretta Hunt, and Sean Guillory for The Nation. And huge, huge thanks to my editors at ProPublica (especially Mark Schoofs), the team at BuzzFeed, Nick Rhoades, and everyone who played a role in bringing this story together.

New Cathie Black Emails

200 MB of new Cathie Black emails, fresh from the NYC Department of Education's FOIL office.

Please enjoy:

F9359-2013-12-06-resp (final).pdf
CBlack CH FOIL 12-6-2013.pdf
File 01-Nov 2010-release version.pdf
File 02-Nov 2010-release version.pdf
File 03-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 04-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 05-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 06-Dec 2010-release version.pdf
File 07-Jan 2011-release version.pdf
Hernandez CB release.pdf Continue reading

Nick Rhoades talks at the beginning of a PITCH meeting in Waterloo, Iowa on Nov. 7, 2013. PITCH, which stands for Positive Iowans Taking Charge, is a support group for people living with HIV. Rhoades, who is HIV-positive, is currently on probation for criminal transmission of HIV. (Stephen Mally for ProPublica)

Sex, Lies, and H.I.V.: When What You Don’t Tell Your Partner Is a Crime

By Sergio Hernandez, Special to ProPublica

Nick Rhoades was clerking at a Family Video store in Waverly, Iowa, one summer afternoon in 2008 when three armed detectives appeared, escorted him to a local hospital and ordered nurses to draw his blood. A dozen miles away, his mother and stepfather looked on as local sheriff’s deputies searched their home for drugs—not illegal drugs, but lifesaving prescription medications.

Lab results and a bottle of pills found in the Rhoades’ refrigerator confirmed the detectives’ suspicions: Nick Rhoades was H.I.V.-positive.

Almost a year later, in a Black Hawk County courtroom, Judge Bradley Harris peered down at Rhoades from his bench.

“One thing that makes this case difficult is you don’t look like our usual criminals,” Harris said. “Often times for the court it is easy to tell when someone is dangerous. They pull the gun. They have done an armed robbery. But you created a situation that was just as dangerous as anyone who did that.”

The judge meted out Rhoades’ sentence: 25 years in prison.

His crime: having sex without first disclosing he had H.I.V. Continue reading


‘You are running it regardless’

Today in uncomfortable journo-flack relations…

A testy exchange between USA Today reporter Brad Heath and the Justice Department's chief spokesman, Brian Fallon, has been making the rounds, after copies of their emails leaked online.

Twitter has jumped on this, which appears to show Fallon, having failed to kill a story Heath was working on, turning around and stonewalling him by refusing to provide answers that would discredit his reporting: Continue reading