Thursday, November 12, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Former Teacher Sentenced for Exposing Ex-Wife to HIV

In an exclusive report, The Jail Report has learned that a former Aiken teacher was sentenced to six years in prison and four years of probation Wednesday after a jury found him guilty of exposing his ex-wife to HIV.

Joel Bedenbaugh, 47,
is being held at the Aiken County Detention Center, awaiting transfer to a state prison. Jailers took the mugshot above shortly after his court hearing.

Mr. Bedenbaugh, a former teacher at several private and public schools in Aiken County, was found guilty of exposing others to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

During a two-day trial, his former doctor testified that he diagnosed Mr. Bedenbaugh with HIV in 1991. Assistant Solicitor Brenda Brisbine presented evidence that Mr. Bedenbaugh married in 2002 and never told his wife during four years of marriage that he was HIV.

"When (the ex-wife) addressed the judge, she said he knew she would never have married him if she had known," Ms. Brisbine told The Jail Report. The couple divorced in 2006.

His HIV status was uncovered as Aiken public safety investigators were looking into allegations he sexually assaulted a girl multiple times over three years while she was between 6-8 years old. Criminal sexual conduct charges in that case are still pending.

Mr. Bedenbaugh was previously convicted and put on probation for having inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl in 2006. In that case, prosecutors say he french-kissed a girl who was taking art lessons at his home.

Authorities say the two girls and Bedenbaugh's ex-wife have been tested for HIV. The ex-wife has consistently tested negative for HIV, Ms. Brisbine said.

Under state law, it is illegal for an HIV positive person to engage in sexual contact with someone without telling them that they have the virus.

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