CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A man accused of knowingly exposing both teens and adults to HIV was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to multiple counts of sexual battery and felonious assault.
Prosecutors say Richard Morris, 38, had sex with men and women — both teens and adults — while he knowingly carried the virus that causes AIDS, according to Cuyahoga County prosecutors. The prosecutor’s office said Morris did not tell the victims he was HIV positive.
He was charged with eight counts of rape, three counts of sexual battery, six counts of felonious assault and one count of possessing criminal tools.
However, as part of a plea deal, Morris pleaded to four felonious assault charges and three sexual battery charges.
Morris was previously arrested in 2018, when there were believed to be six victims.
“Part of taking advantage of them is not disclosing his status,” said the prosecution during the sentencing. “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.
Judge Nancy Fuerst, who presided over the sentencing, said Morris appeared to prey on people who were “down and out” or had limited mental capacity and who have suffered long-term psychological damage.
“The court finds that recidivism is more likely,” said Fuerst.
Morris, who apologized to his children and the victims, was sentenced to a total of 23 years.
He will be designated as a Tier 3 sex offender and will be under post-release supervision for eight years.