Worst Legal Defense Ever

A year ago, South-African born Australian Andre Chad Parenzee was found guilty of intentionally endangering the lives of three women by having unprotected sex with them when he knew himself to be infected with HIV. Two of the women escaped uninfected. The third was not so lucky.

Sad to say, this in itself is neither uncommon nor surprising, especially to anyone living in SA where we hear about this sort of thing happening all the time. What is surprising is the tactic Parenzee’s lawyers chose to take in his appeal against his conviction. Their argument? That HIV does not exist, therefore he cannot have infected the women with anything and couldn’t have endangered their lives.

Yes, you read that right. His actual legal defense, which the Australian Supreme Court is currently entertaining to the extent that the appeal is being heard, is that HIV does not exist. The defense has brought two ‘experts’ to the stand to testify to this, and the prosecution is in the process of tearing them a new one. They have already pointed out that one of the defense witnesses, Ms Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, has intentionally deceived the court:

Under cross-examination, Prosecutor Sandi McDonald accused Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos of misrepresenting studies presented to the court by omitting words from quotes that did not support her argument.

AIDS denialists quote mining? My goodness! It must be a day of the week ending in the letter ‘y’!

The witnesses for the prosecution are also having a fair go at those for the defence. Sir Gustav Nossal, a world-class immunologist, has called the HIV skeptics “a considerable scientific embarrassment”. Dr Elizabeth Dax, one of the world’s top HIV diagnosis experts, has accused the skeptics of presenting “dinosaur” evidence, referring to such tactics as presenting a paper from 1989 as if no recent discoveries have been made. Microbiologist David Gordon has compared them to UFO supporters.

The outcome of this trial should be obvious, if the judge deserves his position on the bench. And if not… well it will be a travesty.

27 Responses to “Worst Legal Defense Ever”

  1. i can’t follow the logic of “HIV doesn’t exist”. i understand that HIV isn’t the same as AIDS and technically he shouldn’t be found guilty of exposing the women to AIDS if he didn’t have AIDS;however, giving someone HIV is definitely “endangering” them since HIV leads to AIDS. i guess it is in the definition of “endangering” and what is considered an endangerment under the law? crazy.

  2. It’s not too surprising how many of Wednesday’s points are applicable to this:
    4, 12, 13 (definitely not 20, though) and of course, “your reality, not mine”

  3. Con-Tester Says:

    These people are sorely in need of basic instruction on the purpose and capability of the Scanning Electron Microscope. HIV has been photographed. Or maybe it was in fact the brain of a denialist.

    Oh wait, that’s sub-atomic.

  4. That settles it. Everything they say about lawyers are true and then some.
    What a waste of taxpayers’ money!

  5. They’re not alone in that belief (however insane it is) so I gues that makes them think they’re entitled to use it.

  6. Sorry, Rjlight. You’re a little mixed up. HIV is the disease (HI Virus). AIDS is a collection of symptoms – a syndrome.

    Like all things in science, the doctors saw that something was happening, they new what the results were, they couldn’t say why. So they called that type of thing AIDS. It’s like a cough, a sore throat or a headache. They’re symptoms not the disease.

    What was referred to as AIDS is actually stage III HIV (I stand to be corrected, my mother’s expert, I just type check here theses). AIDS is just a verbal leftover.

  7. I’ve been mixed up before! That’s what I get for trying to understand a lawyer’s argument. There is so much emphasis placed on AIDS rather than HIV in the media that I think I am not alone in the confusion, or maybe I am just the only ignorant one. Thanks for calling me on my error. I realize now after researching a bit that at this point in history, AIDS is inevitable if you are HIV positive. I would think the defense’s strategy would be much better spent arguing that the man was ignorant to the severity of the disease, but hey, I’m not a lawyer so I’m sure it makes much more sense questioning the entire medical community. Your mother’s thesis sounds very interesting, I just finished proofing my husband’s thesis. Thanks for enlightening me,

  8. I’ve been mixed up before! That’s what I get for trying to understand a lawyer’s argument. There is so much emphasis placed on AIDS rather than HIV in the media that I think I am not alone in the confusion, or maybe I am just the only ignorant one. Thanks for calling me on my error. I realize now after researching a bit that at this point in history, AIDS is inevitable if you are HIV positive. I would think the defense’s strategy would be much better spent arguing that the man was ignorant to the severity of the disease, but hey, I’m not a lawyer so I’m sure it makes much more sense questioning the entire medical community. Your mother’s thesis sounds very interesting, I just finished proofing my husband’s thesis which obviously had nothing to do with AIDS –well, not directly anyway.

  9. oops, sorry. I wasn’t repeating myself for emphasis! my son pushed something!

  10. totalwaste Says:

    IANAL, but i think that your son pushing something would still count as an action you’re responsible for. which would make your argument extremely poor and i can now say that logically, you believe that HIV doesn’t exist.

    that little tidbit of turd was brought to you by this quote.

    in case you’re too lazy to click the link, i’m talking rubbish. just like AIDS denialists.

  11. I guess I need to type IANAL before everything I type from now on just to be safe. If my son is pushing something I am partly to blame! He is only 18 months–so the only thing he is pushing is the keyboard and his cars.

  12. This trial is just a test of humankind”s comprehension abilities…

    http://www.abduct.com/features/f34.php
    http://www.fsr.org.uk/fsrart37.htm

    You will be kept informed on a “need to know” basis.
    Buy your tin foil hats while there is still time (or make your own).

  13. The other “connection” here is with Kary Mullis, but you have to read “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field” to find it.

    http://www.cufos.org/IUR_spring99_addendum.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kary_Mullis
    In regards to his abduction account, Mullis writes “I wouldn’t try to publish a scientific paper about these things, because I can’t do any experiments. I can’t make glowing raccoons appear. I can’t buy them from a scientific supply house to study.

    Hmmmmmm… Very Interesting….

  14. Chris Noble Says:

    As an Australian scientist (not in a HIV related field) I am deeply embarrassed by the “Perth Group”.

    Apparently the Parenzee’s family have coughed up 250,000 dollars for the defence. It is comparable to the “experts” that pop up to claim that babies that died with brain damage and broken ribs really suffered from vaccine damage.

    You have to add the galileo gambit to your list of cuckoo traits.

    Perth Group member Val Turner said on Friday he was walking in the footsteps of scientific mavericks such as Galileo, who was imprisoned by the Catholic Church for his espousal of the sun-centred solar system. Professor Moore said this was “bullshit”.

    The whole thing would be extremely funny if it were not for the cost both in monetary terms and in future health issues for Australians.

    The whole “rethinker” movement seems to have invested a lot in this case. I just hope that they will shut up after it’s all over although somehow I doubt it. Parenzee is also reported to have had both high viral load and low CD4 counts at diagnosis. To be blunt, he is unlikely to be a long-term non-progressor. In the event that he does progress to AIDS and dies you have to wonder how the “experts” will explain this.

  15. rjlight: technically, giving someone the HI virus as surely leads to AIDS as giving them the ebola virus leads to ebola. As Andy pointed out, AIDS is the name for the collection of symptoms that result from a late-stage HIV infection. The two are inextricably linked. However, you are correct that of the two arguments they could have used – HIV doesn’t exist and HIV doesn’t cause AIDS – the latter would probably have given them a little more time in court. Sure, they are both wrong, but it’s just so EASY to prove HIV exists – as Con-Tester pointed out, we have photographed it under electron microscopes. As one of the prosecution witnesses pointed out, we have gene-sequenced it. We know its signature and we have its picture, both of which can be compelling evidence to a lay Judge. Proving HIV causes AIDS takes a teeny tiny bit of understanding of immunology, which the average Judge may not have, and which the average person definitely doesn’t have, hence denialism.

    Chris Noble: I think we know from Dover that trials of this nature, when they fall in the direction of common sense, are immediately dismissed by the woo brigade as a travesty of justice, and ignored ever after.

  16. Chris Noble Says:

    You’re right Moonflake I should be more realistic in what I hope for. I hope that less people will listen to the “Perth Group” and other “rethinkers”.

    I find it hard to believe that the “Perth Group’s” colleagues at the Royal Perth Hospital will be keen to have them there for much longer. Some early retirements might be expected. In this case it will probably turn them into martyrs in the eyes of their supporters.

    The Perth Group is also used to their playthings dying. The entire Sydney chapter of HEAL died from AIDS despite denying the role of HIV in AIDS. The Perth Group didn’t pause to rethink their rethink at this stage so I guess they would rethink if Parenzee progressed to AIDS and died.

    I understand form some of the news articles that the “rethinker” lawyer Kevin Borick attacked Gallo’s integrity because of the confusion over the source of the original HTLV-III/LAV isolate. I’ll wait for the transcripts but if they are really arguing both that Gallo stole the virus from Montagnier and that the virus doesn’t exist it would truly go down as the most stupid defence ever.

    PS. Can we exile the “Perth Group” to South Africa?

  17. Con-Tester Says:

    Chris Noble: No, I don’t think the Perth Group would be needed here. We have our own chapter. Except here we call them “Government”.

  18. Dr PS Duke: You’re right, it’s the only plausible explanation! Although you may have a hard time convincing people in south africa of it, as the general consensus around here is that the ‘whites’ did it. Either that, or it’s a curse put on you by a witch. I mean, aliens… that’s such a ‘western’ concept.

  19. Chris Noble: As I understand it, Perth is the home of choice for South African exiles, not the other way round.

  20. Chris Noble Says:

    OK, South Africa doesn’t want our loonies and we don’t want yours.

    Kary Mullis’ alien abduction was relatively brief. He only lost 6 hours with his glow in the dark raccoon experience.

    Is there any way that we can convince some of these aliens to abduct them and keep them. Perhaps Dr Duke has the necessary contacts.

  21. six hours you say? that’s interestingly consistent with the average LSD trip…

  22. Wouldn’t it be easier to try to prove that the victim didn’t get HIV from him? Is DNA evidence advanced enough to determine that she in fact was infected with HIV from him and not someone else? I have no desire to see this guy off the hook–I am just convinced that there would have been a few different ways to go with his defense.

  23. Chris Noble Says:

    rjlight:Wouldn’t it be easier to try to prove that the victim didn’t get HIV from him? Is DNA evidence advanced enough to determine that she in fact was infected with HIV from him and not someone else? I have no desire to see this guy off the hook–I am just convinced that there would have been a few different ways to go with his defense.

    I have read some of the witnesses referring to exactly this piece of evidence. HIV from Parenzee has been isolated and sequenced. The sequences from his starin of HIV have been compared with other HIV isolates from Australia and I presume with an isolate from the victim. But this is the prosecution’s evidence and I assume that it shows that it is very likely that Parenzee did infect this woman.

    The best the defense could do is argue that this doesn’t prove with a 100% certainty that Parenzee infected the woman the most the prosecution can do is demonstrate that the probability that these sequences are this similar by chance alone is very very small.

    Here’s an news article from Science describing this sort of case.
    Forensic Science: Phylogenetic Analysis: Getting Its Day in Court

    You should forget about logic. The Perth Group are on the fringes of a fringe group. They aren’t even taken very seriously by other HIV “rethinkers” such as Duesberg. The Perth group have been looking for a means to further their own crazy theories after being ignored by the scientific community. I think they were supposed to appear as “expert witnesses” in Anthony Brink’s anti-AZT trial in SA.

    It looks like they managed to convince Parenzee’s lawyer that they weren’t complete nuts. This shows you shouldn’t rely on lawyers for scientific opinions. Either that or Borick knows the Perth Group are full of bullshit but doesn’t care as long as he wins his case.

  24. Chris is of course absolutely correct, gene sequencing does indeed present sufficient evidence that one person infected another with the HI virus. Don’t forget, this guy has already been found guilty, and if this pathetic appeal is anything to go by, he was found very decidedly guilty.

  25. Chris Noble Says:

    It should also be pointed out that Parenzee was not a “rethinker” until the Perth Group approached his lawyers.

    He knew he was HIV+. He knew that HIV causes AIDS and he knew that HIV is sexually transmitted. He was fully informed by his doctors about these risks and urged to take measures to prevent transmitting the virus. He lied to his wife and girlfriends about his health. He didn’t tell them about being HIV+. It is only now after being convicted that he has suddenly become a Denialist.

    The evidence against him is overwhelming. I don’t think the gene sequencing alone would be sufficient evidence for transmission. There is a very small chance that two HIVs can be similar by chance. Combined with the circumstantial eveidence that he did have sex with this woman then it really is beyond doubt.

    Whether somebody should go to jail for knowingly transmitting HIV is another question. It is certainly morally reprehensible although I find “rethinkers” like the Perth Group that encourage this to be even worse.

  26. I think Parenzee should be made to pay compensation for trauma caused to the women but HIV is now on trial here as it should have been a long time ago.
    The only woman to have tested positive in this case was pregnant before and this is one of the risks for testing positive in the HIV antibody test.
    Robert Gallo in his testimony also admitted to the court that he brought the HIV test onto the market but only 40% of his ‘AIDS’ patients were positive to his test.
    These were patients with symptoms so there should have been more positives, peer review of his theory etc…
    AIDS dissidents are rapidly becoming mainstream, after Magic Johnson went on Oprah the message board was filled with people asking hard questions and being very sceptical.
    This was one woman’s message to show you.
    ““I was told 6 yrs.ago that I was positive and would be dead within a yr.I am a white woman who never did anything risky but was the mother of 8 children.I have never taken any drugs for this disease and they can’t find a viral load in me and I have never even had a cold in these 6 yrs.But I do know that the tests can react to over 70 things that can cause a cross reaction and prior pregrancies is one of them.And I have 8 children.HELLO. I feel I have been misdiagnosed and I have to live like I’m dying but I’m not.There are alot of people out there like me that this is happening to and this is so so wrong.And they need to do something about this injustice.Its the people that are taking the drugs that are dying.Please can’t someone come up with a reliable tests that can be trusted so that I and many others will know the truth?”
    Something Needs to Change

    The Parenzee case may still go to appeal and there are more cases looming, these will involve women who have had their children removed for refusing to give them AIDS drugs, much worthier cases to take to trial.
    I’ve left a link and you can check my blog as the news changes if you wish.
    Have a good day too.

  27. Its sad that something like this can happen despite the strong scientific evidence showing the HIV causes AIDS. But, I guess this guy really beleives this crap. But, no one should be allowed to risk the life of someone based on a personal belief unsupported by science. There is no contraversy! And like the first 3 pages of google are various aids dianilists spewing off what could be deadly messages. There are so many arguments and metaphors for this, but I really just hope that the victom of this is doing as well as cab be expectedm and the perpetrator I would hope actually delieved these lies, which, would make him stupid, careless in his review, weak in being talked into beleifs. He has HIV as well, so I fel a little bad for him to. He was a pawn in their aids dennialist movement,

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