Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday sentenced Ghana-born Chris Serfo to 25 years in prison for having sexual relations with three women even though he knew he had AIDS, and for raping another woman and infecting her with AIDS before it was clearly established that he knew he had the disease.
In July, the court had convicted Serfo of rape, perpetrating an act likely to spread disease, making threats and aggravated assault.
As a result of his actions, three of the four women who lodged complaints against him are infected with AIDS and seriously ill. At the time of his sexual relations with the first plaintiff, in 1997, it could not be established that he had the disease. However, after he raped her and she became pregnant, the young woman went for a checkup and found that she had become infected with HIV. The woman told Serfo what happened and urged him to be tested.
Serfo ignored her advice and continued to maintain sexual relations with other women. Two of them lodged complaints against him after they also contracted AIDS. The first of these affairs began in 1998 and lasted until April 2001. The second began in December 2001 and lasted until April 2002. A fourth woman met Serfo in October 2002 and had sex with him once. She did not develop AIDS. The women also testified that Serfo abused them and used violence against them.
Serfo was officially diagnosed as having AIDS in April 2001 after going to a doctor because he was not feeling well.
In explaining their reasons for the stiff sentence, the judges wrote, "One after another, these young women appeared before us, pretty, wise, intelligent, articulate and sensitive. They evoked trust and sympathy, and all of them related, each in her own way, without holding back anything, how they were caught in the defendant's web through which their lives were destroyed, how the defendant conspired with brazenness and indescribable lack of feeling to link their fates with his, how he turned their youthful freshness into a death sentence."
The court pointed out that despite their illnesses, each of the AIDS-infected women were studying and working. But their lives were hard. "The descriptions of each of the plaintiffs who became sick with AIDS, the suffering and torments they endured, the physical side effects, the emotional traumas, the daily existential anxieties, the uncertainty of each day, illustrated the harm inflicted upon them by the defendant," the court added.
As for Serfo, the judges wrote, "the public interest requires that the defendant be removed from society for a long period of time, in view of the real and ongoing danger that he poses even today. The history of disregard for treating his illness, its deliberate concealment for years through deceit, his lack of consideration for others and, even today, his lack of awareness of the gravity of his deeds, his refusal to accept responsibility or even to express sorrow for the suffering of the plaintiffs, all of these point to a severe lack of judgment and danger that he will continue to commit similar crimes."
The court complained that the Criminal Code does not treat the deliberate spreading of AIDS as a severe crime. The maximum punishment for conviction is only seven years, they wrote. The judges ruled that the sentences would be served consecutively rather than simultaneously, guaranteeing that Serfo will remain in jail for many years.