HIV positive man pleads guilty to aggravated sexual assault

An HIV-positive Yukon man has pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault after having sex with a woman without telling her about his status. Napoleon Ngeruka pleaded guilty in Yukon territorial court yesterday.

An HIV-positive Yukon man has pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault after having sex with a woman without telling her about his status.

Napoleon Ngeruka pleaded guilty in Yukon territorial court yesterday.

The sentencing hearing ended early because one of the lawyers was sick. The two sides will present their closing arguments to Judge Michael Cozens at a later date.

The central issue of yesterday’s hearing was whether or not Ngeruka’s victim contracted the virus from having sex with him.

The woman, who cannot be identified, testified she found out she was HIV positive in 2010.

If the court believes she was given the virus by Ngeruka that will be an aggravating factor when he is sentenced and likely lead to him spending more time behind bars.

The woman, 59, first met 56-year-old Ngeruka, in 2005. They had a sexual relationship that lasted two or three months and had sex maybe five times, she said.

She testified that they didn’t use a condom and that using a condom was never brought up.

Ngeruka never told her he was HIV-positive, she said.

Had she known about his HIV status she never would have had unprotected sex with him, she told the court.

“I would like to ask him why?” she said.

The pair met up again in 2009 and had sex about four times, she said.

Again, Ngeruka never mentioned his HIV status and never mentioned using a condom, she said.

After she was diagnosed, she gave officials the names of all her past sexual partners, she said.

She hasn’t heard of any of them testing positive for the virus, she said. A number of medical records were filed with the court showing negative HIV tests.

Dr. Mark Wainberg testified that the viral DNA in both Ngeruka’s and the woman’s blood was “very strongly related.”

Wainberg, the director of the Jewish General Hospital’s AIDS research centre, said it’s impossible to say with 100 per cent certainty that one person caught the virus from another.

The HIV virus mutates over time, he said. It’s also possible that both people caught the same virus from a third party.

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks a person’s immune system.

When the immune system is weakened a person can become susceptible to unusual infections. Developing one of those opportunistic infections is what’s known as AIDS, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Medical advancements and improved medications mean that people with HIV can live a normal lifespan, testified Dr. Barbara Romanowski, an infectious disease specialist from Edmonton who sees patients in the Yukon.

That is a dramatic improvement over the 1980s when a diagnosis with HIV meant certain death and the only thing doctors could offer patients was palliative care, she said.

Ngeruka has been HIV positive since 1993, the court heard. Between 2005 and 2009 the amount of the virus in his system would not have been considered high enough to start medication, she said. But there is a risk of the virus being transmitted at any level.

HIV often begins with flu-like symptoms and it is possible not to know about it for years. There is no way to say how long a person has been HIV positive when a doctor sees them, she said.

The issue of whether failing to disclose HIV constitutes a crime has gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In October 2012 the country’s top court ruled that people living with HIV have a legal duty to disclose their status to partners if there is a “realistic possibility” of HIV transmission. That includes having sex without a condom.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision angered many advocates who fought the case in court.

They claimed that forcing someone to disclose their HIV status is adding to the stigma that surrounds HIV.

They worried people will now avoid being tested since learning that they have HIV triggers a requirement to tell potential sex partners.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. The proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is moving closer to development with a number of milestones reached by the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership and Yukon Energy over the last several months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Atlin hydro project progresses

Officials reflect on milestones reached

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read