Man with HIV sentenced for using sex as weapon against children, adults

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A man who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual battery and felonious assault was sentenced Tuesday.

Richard Morris sentencing, Cuyahoga County court, FOX 8 Photo

Prosecutors say Richard Morris, 38, sexually assaulted men and women, both teens and adults.

He was charged with the following:

  • 8 counts of rape
  • 3 counts of sexual battery
  • 6 counts of felonious assault
  • 1 count of possessing criminal tools

However, as part of a plea deal, Morris pleaded to four felonious assault charges and three sexual battery charges.

Judge Nancy Fuerst presided over the sentencing.

The FOX 8 I-Team previously reported that Morris assaulted the victims while knowingly carrying the virus that causes AIDS.

He was arrested in 2018. At that time there were believed to be 6 victims.

Richard Morris, Courtesy: Cuyahoga County Jail

“Part of taking advantage of them is not disclosing his status,” said the prosecution during the sentencing. The prosecutor’s office said Morris did not tell them he was HIV positive, so he exposed them without them knowing.

“He still chose to get into the relationship and expose children to this disease that he suffers from.”

Two of the victims were relatives, according to prosecutors.

“These were consensual relationships,” argued his defense attorney.

Morris apologized to his children and the victims.

The judge said he appeared to prey on people who were “down and out” or had limited mental capacity who have suffered long-term psychological damage.

“The court finds that recidivism is more likely,” said Judge Fuerst.

The judge sentenced him to a total of 23 years on the multiple charges.

He’ll be designated as a Tier 3 sex offender and will be under post-release supervision for 8 years.

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