The Frederick Police Department, or FPD, and the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office are dealing with a criminal case they’ve never handled before.
“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that FPD has investigated an incident like this. It’s the first time that I’m aware of that we’ve been able to charge someone with this crime,” Sgt. Andrew Alcorn explained.
On Tuesday, the State’s Attorney’s Office handed 34-year-old Rudolph Smith 12 charges, including reckless endangerment and knowingly transferring or attempting to transfer the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.
State’s Attorney Charlie Smith says the misdemeanor, punishable by up to three years in prison, is part of a 1989 statute.
“This is actually the first case in Frederick County that we’ve had charged under the new statute. We have had sexual assaults, rape cases, in the past where the victim has obviously been transmitted HIV but back then it was not a crime to do so,” State’s Attorney Smith said.
The investigation began in the summer of 2017 after a woman called the police to say Smith had given her the virus.
This sparked a 21-month investigation for police who had no reference or blueprint to follow in obtaining evidence and other forms of investigation.
“We didn’t know that we couldn’t subpoena certain things. We didn’t know that we couldn’t have access to certain record, so when one door closes you’ve got to find another window that’s open so it was very challenging for investigators,” Alcorn admits.
Officials were able to obtain a search warrant for a blood sample that did show the suspect was HIV positive.
Unlike many other cases, officials have received an influx of calls from women who have admitted to relations with Smith, even after police interviewed the suspect and reiterated his diagnosis.
“As compared to other cases, even larger cases [like] homicide cases, this one has gained a lot of traction just because of the social aspect of it. A lot of people have come forward- I mean hundreds -of people],” Alcorn said.
Alcorn says the police department is now better equipped to handle any future cases in which a person may be suspect of knowingly transferring the virus.
Smith is currently behind bars at the Frederick County Detention Center being held on a $100,000 bond.
Officials say Smith is expected to stand trial within the next 180 days.