HIV-positive man suing RCMP for negligence, defamation
An HIV-positive man who was charged with sexual assault for failing to disclose his status to his partners is suing police for their handling of his case, which ended with all charges being dropped in April 2018.
In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on July 16, Brian Carlisle alleges that media attention on his case -- generated by the RCMP's decision to release his name, image and HIV status to the public -- has made it difficult for him to find work and housing.
Carlisle's suit names Mission RCMP, the Attorney General of British Columbia, the B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and the specific officers who worked on the case as defendants. It accuses them of negligence in conducting their investigation, as well as defamation.
At the time of publication, no responses from any of the defendants could be found among online court records for the case.
In its statement of facts, the lawsuit says Mission RCMP arrested Carlisle in July 2017 after receiving a complaint from a former sexual partner of his who found out about his HIV status. After working to contact other people who had been in relationships with Carlisle, police initially charged him with three counts of aggravated sexual assault.
Then, on Aug. 3, 2017, the RCMP released a media statement describing Carlisle as "infected with" HIV and saying that he may have been engaging in unprotected sex. The release included a photo of Carlisle, listed locations where he had been known to reside and mentioned that he had an online presence on social media and dating sites. The release asked women who had been intimate with Carlisle to visit their doctors.
More women came forward and provided statements to police, and a total of 12 charges of sexual assault were brought against Carlisle.
The Crown stayed all of those charges because Carlisle's HIV treatment was up-to-date and his "viral load" undetectable, meaning he couldn't transmit the virus through sexual contact.
One of the women who came forward to the RCMP said she was “angry” when she learned Carlisle had launched the lawsuit.
“Just because he isn’t transmittable — his viral load is considered undetectable — doesn’t mean he should outright lie to me when I asked if he had any STDs. You should still disclose your status if somebody asks you,” the woman said. She can’t be identified because of a publication ban.
She said when she learned of his status, she suffered emotional distress.
“He broke the law, which is why the RCMP were investigating in the first place,” she said. “He’s trying to play the victim. Meanwhile the rest of us victims are being left in the dust, really. We got no justice.”
As a result of the RCMP's actions, Carlisle's lawsuit alleges, he has been unable to find work in the medical marijuana field, despite having "12 to 18 years of experience in medical marijuana production."
Carlisle has also been unable to get a job teaching French, despite being a francophone and having tutoring experience, according to court documents.
The lawsuit indicates that he currently works for a human resources company, which does not use his name when dealing with clients.
Carlisle has considered changing his name, according to the lawsuit, but is concerned about "losing recognition for his previous publications and degrees."
The lawsuit seeks damages "for pain and suffering and loss of amenities or enjoyment of life," as well as for "income loss, both past and future," "loss of earning capacity" and court costs.
None of the allegations in Carlisle's lawsuit have been proven in court.
CTV News has reached out to Mission RCMP, the B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and Attorney General.
RCMP E Division and the B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General said they are not commenting because the matter is before the courts.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ian Holliday