Alleged Rapist With HIV May Face More Charges

Carlton Tambaoga
Carlton Tambaoga | Image by Carrollton Police Department

A man suspected of raping women in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston, and Atlanta may face additional charges in Georgia due to his positive HIV status.

The Carrollton Police Department (CPD) is currently searching for additional victims of the alleged serial rapist, Carlton Tambaoga. The 25-year-old is currently being held in Denton County jail on aggravated sexual assault charges that will likely carry additional criminal penalties under the reckless conduct statute in Georgia.

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, Tambaoga was initially arrested on one count of sexual assault on February 11 and posted bail a few days later. Investigators then linked him to five more rape cases a few days later and arrested him on new charges — three counts of aggravated sexual assault.

The upgrade from sexual assault to aggravated sexual assault is due to officers discovering Tambaoga is HIV positive. As a representative from the CPD told the Dallas Observer, Tambaoga had asked for HIV-specific medication while incarcerated, prompting investigators to ask a grand jury to subpoena his medical records to confirm his status.

Texas is one of 16 states that does not have laws criminalizing the exposure or transmission of HIV — neither negligently nor intentionally. It was actually the very first state to move to repeal HIV laws criminalizing transmission in 1994.

“There was concern over individual protection and civil rights and sort of flagging people who have a certain medical issue as a criminal and the inherent individual liberties that would go along with that,” explained Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a Dallas-based attorney representing sexual assault victims, according to the Dallas Observer.

Georgia, on the other hand, passed laws in 2022 that allow prosecutors to pursue felony charges against anyone who is HIV positive and fails to disclose the illness to another before engaging in sexual activity.

There is no intent requirement to be convicted of the crime, meaning that neither the intent to transmit HIV to someone nor the actual transmission of HIV to someone is required for prosecution. A person found guilty can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The reckless conduct statute also covers instances in which an HIV-infected person fails to disclose his status before sharing needles or donating blood or other tissues. Similarly, it is considered a felony in Georgia for someone with HIV to assault a peace officer using his bodily fluids, with this being punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

While Tuegel believes that intentional HIV transmission should be met with an enhanced criminal charge, she noted that HIV criminal laws present a few caveats.

“Do we want everyone who transmits an STD to be convicted of a crime? Unless the person with the STD has a clear medical record that shows they knew and didn’t disclose the STD to the other person, there could be a lot of proof problems,” Tuegel said.

Although Tambaoga has been linked to a sexual assault case in Georgia, no charges appear to have been filed yet.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, black and Hispanic individuals comprised the majority of sex assault victims last year as the Dallas Police Department worked to get crime under control amid a serious staffing shortage. DPD currently only has around 3,000 officers, despite a City analysis advising that a jurisdiction the size of Dallas should have about 4,000 officers to ensure public safety properly.

Budgeting only $654 million for the department this fiscal year, the Dallas City Council voted to spend much less taxpayer money on law enforcement than other high-crime jurisdictions, like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

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