Man faces HIV charge in child sex abuse case

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent City man who tested positive for HIV is accused of sexually abusing a child.

Christopher Haggerty, 30, was arrested Jan. 4 after an 11-year-old girl told investigators Haggerty had sexually abused her since she was 5 or 6. The alleged sexual abuse happened in several jurisdictions, including a home in Kent City.

Court records also revealed that a second victim, a boy, was confirmed to have HIV.

Both of the victims were known to Haggerty.

“Any sexual offense involving a child is egregious,” Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said.

Haggerty faces three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree CSC, and one count of HIV-knowingly engaging in intercourse with an uninformed partner.

The HIV charge is infrequent in Kent County.

“In the last 5 years, we charged it twice in Kent County,” Becker said.

The rarity is partially due to Michigan laws.

“For most of my career, it was (that) if you had sex with a uniformed partner, that was a charge,” Becker said.

But in 2018, Becker said, changes were made, increasing the burden for someone to be charged with an HIV-related offense.

“They raised the burden for the prosecution to say either you intended to do it or you did it with reckless disregard and that really changed the law. We didn’t see a ton of them to begin with and we haven’t really seen a whole since then,” Becker said.

Becker says Kent County also sees a large volume of sexual abuse cases each year, including hundreds in the second degree.

He said the Haggerty case highlights the importance of resources like the Children’s Advocacy Center of Kent County.

“You have to have something for those kids and hopefully make it as easy as possible, because they’re going through some horrific circumstances and charges that they had to live through,” Becker said.

Haggerty is expected back in court on Wednesday. He faces a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted of first-degree CSC.

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