CINCINNATI - On Monday, a Hamilton County judge sentenced a former professional wrestler to 32 years in prison for failing to warn 11 sexual partners that he was HIV positive.
Judge Jerome Metz sentenced Andre Davis at a hearing Monday morning.
A jury convicted Davis of Hyde Park in Nov. on 14 counts of felonious assault. Each count carries a maximum sentence of eight years.
Ohio law requires anyone who tests positive for HIV to reveal the information before having sexual contact with a partner because it is a potentially deadly virus.
Davis was a wrestler who went by the name of Andre Heart but his contract with a professional wrestling organization was rescinded after a physical showed he was HIV positive.
Prosecutors said Davis did not tell at least a dozen women that he was HIV positive. He's also facing similar charges in Butler and Warren counties.
Defense attorney Greg Cohen told the judge Davis did not attempt to harm the victims. Cohen said Davis accepts responsibility and asked for the minimum sentence. He said Davis wants to become involved in HIV awareness.
Davis read a statement to the judge. He said he felt his story has been one sided during the trial.
"The reason I hold my head high is because God allows me to," Davis said.
Davis added his dream had always been to become a professional wrestler and worked all his life to achieve it.
"I wanted to travel the world but in the blink of an eye it was taken away," said Davis. "I went into a very deep depression. I tried to fix all the problems myself. So I slipped deep into depression and turned to addictions."
His addiction, Davis says, was sex.
"I could not turn away from sex," Davis said. "My addiction started in high school. I loved women more than anything. When I lost my job, the addiction got worse. I neglected my children. I didn't realize that until I was sitting in jail."
"Sex addiction is probably the worst addiction you can have," said the father of five.
Regarding his HIV status, Davis said he was too scared to tell anyone.
"I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want it to get back to my family," he said.
"Was I trying to hurt women? Absolutely not. I am a loving and compassionate man," Davis said. "I'm not a monster like the media tried to portray me as."
He added he has joined programs in jail and goes to the jail church services.
"I've asked for forgiveness for the things I've done. I've done wrong," said Davis. "I've prayed these women do not hate me. I truly am sorry for my actions."
Davis said he wants to eliminate the stigma that surrounds HIV and AIDS. He now wants to be a motivational speaker.
"I believe sitting in prison will not help me," Davis said. "I believe I can make a difference."
After his statement, one of Davis' victims who did not wish to be identified read a statement to the judge.
"My life will never be the same," she said. "The day I found out he was HIV positive was the scariest day of my life."
She said it's been nine months since she found out and time hasn't made it any easier.
"Andre, I pray God has mercy on your soul," said the victim.
Alex Uehlein, the mother of Davis' two children, also spoke before the court defending Davis. "He didn't kill anybody," said Uehlein. "I just wish you can get him help. He needs it. He deserves it."
Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Amy Tranter asked the judge to give Davis 88 years because there are 11 separate victims and Davis has taken no responsibility for his actions. Tranter said there is also concern for other women across the country after finding hundreds of names in Davis' cell phone.
"We don't know if he had sexual contact with these women. We don't know that for sure one way or another but they were there and I think police did an outstanding job investigating this. They took it upon themselves, divided up the list, said you call this third, I'll call this third, call this third, and just make contact with each and every woman just for their own safety so they could go to their doctors and get tested," said Amy Tranter, Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor.
Davis is appealing the jury's verdict.
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