A District man who allegedly raped a woman after telling her he had AIDS was charged yesterday with rape while armed, in the city's first apparent criminal case stemming from the possible transmission of the deadly AIDS virus.
Donald J. Hatch, 39, was held without bond after a prosecutor told a D.C. Superior Court hearing commissioner that a Howard University student had identified Hatch as the man who raped her Oct. 19 after saying he had AIDS.
Hatch, according to prosecutor Paul Howes, threatened to infect the woman with AIDS after he jumped into her car near the university and punctured his hand with a needle. Howes said Hatch told the woman he was an AIDS patient and also would prick her with the needle if she did not follow his orders.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is a fatal disease transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids, such as in sexual intercourse or intraveneous drug use. Although yesterday's case appeared to represent the first criminal charges brought in the city involving AIDS transmission or its threat as a key element of the crime, law enforcement officials around the country have begun prosecuting these kinds of cases.
In September, for example, a Los Angeles municipal court judge ordered a prostitute to stand trial for attempted murder for allegedly selling his AIDS-tainted blood to a plasma center. Earlier this year, an Arizona soldier was charged with aggravated assault after he was accused of having sex with three people without telling them he carried the AIDS virus.
In yesterday's case, the needle was the weapon necessary to charge rape while armed, and the threat of AIDS represented the required force, prosecutors said.
It was unknown yesterday whether Hatch has AIDS, but Commissioner Pamela Young ordered Hatch to submit to blood tests in addition to hair and saliva examinations. Sources said that if Hatch tests positively for the virus, prosecutors could increase Hatch's charges to assault with intent to kill.
Hatch did not speak at the brief hearing, but his lawyer told the judge that Hatch's wife and child were in the courtroom.
A pretrial services report indicated that Hatch exhibited no signs of current drug abuse, but that he acknowledged problems with previous drug use. Hatch is on probation for a possession of marijuana conviction and previously has been convicted of drug distribution.
Hatch also has five prior convictions, including armed robbery and receiving stolen property.
Last month, a story in Howard University's newspaper, The Hilltop, reported that another student was attacked earlier in the month in her car by a man who threatened her with a hypodermic needle that he said was tainted with the AIDS virus and rat poisoning. The newspaper reported that the woman escaped from the car after grabbing the man's face and causing him to crash. The paper said the man fled the scene.
The woman in the Oct. 19 case told police her assailant forced her to drive to an alley where he raped her and made her perform oral sodomy. Hatch was arrested Sunday after the woman called police to say she had just seen her assailant.