A “modern-day Casanova” infected 10 women with HIV, and prosecutors tried him for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Here’s how they won a guilty verdict and tough sentence.
Lisa Milasky King
The defendant’s attorney referred to Philippe Padieu as a “lover” and “a modern-day Casanova.” But we argued Padieu was a narcissistic predator who used his personality to attract and date several women simultaneously, ultimately infecting them with HIV. Not only did he fail to disclose his deadly secret, but he also lied to the women about his infection. In the end, 10 women from different walks of life and who had not known each other previously were forever connected by two things: They all dated Padieu and they all were infected with HIV. The courage of these women in coming forward to reveal the most intimate and sometimes embarrassing parts of their lives enabled us to bring Philippe Padieu to justice.
In March 2007, our office received a phone call from the Collin County Health Authority (CCHA); a doctor there inquired if we would prosecute an HIV-positive person who had violated a joint Collin County and Dallas County Health Authority Cease & Desist Order. Philippe Padieu had been served with the order in February 2007, when he was ordered to refrain from having unprotected sex and to inform his partners of his HIV status. The CCHA learned that after the order was served, Padieu had violated both requirements.
The CCHA advised us that the woman with whom Padieu engaged in unprotected sex would not participate in any sort of prosecution. We explained that without cooperation from the witness, we would be unable to meet our burden of proof. But the Frisco Police Department had already started a criminal investigation on the belief that Padieu may have infected several women. Detective Tom Presley, who accompanied the doctor to Padieu’s residence when he was served the health authority order, was investigating the possible criminal transmission of HIV and had contacted our Intake/Grand Jury Division about the proper criminal charge. After conferring with the chief of that division, Doris Berry, we called Detective Presley, and our office’s involvement in this investigation truly began.
That February, Detective Presley was contacted by two of our victims, Barbara and Susan, who reported that Padieu knowingly infected them with HIV. Each said that she had been involved in a long-term (but apparently overlapping) relationship with Padieu, and neither knew about the other. Both women further advised Detective Presley that he assured them that he was “clean.”
All of the women’s connections to each other came after July 2006 when Barbara, who had believed she was in a monogamous relationship with the defendant since 2002, tested positive for the human papillomavirus (HPV) during her annual well-woman check-up. Barbara and Padieu had just ended their relationship a week earlier. During their relationship, Barbara had paid for his cell phone, and when they broke up, she demanded he return it. Upon learning that she had HPV, Barbara began calling the numbers in his phone and the numbers listed on the phone bill to advise the women who answered that Padieu had infected her with HPV and to get tested.
Barbara and some of the women she contacted met for lunch to compare notes and learned that Padieu had been seeing many of them simultaneously. The ladies took a picture of them together and sent it to Padieu. Unfortunately, at the time, these women believed the issue with their health was HPV. No one had any idea of the devastation that was about to come.
One of the many women Barbara called was Susan. Susan had begun her relationship with Padieu in October 2005, one month after he learned about his HIV+ status. By early December 2006, Susan started having doubts about their relationship, partly because of the conversation about HPV she had with Barbara in September 2006. Susan decided that after Christmas she was going to get tested for all STDs. On January 2, 2007, Susan was told she was HIV-positive. Soon thereafter, she was contacted by the Dallas County Health Department (be-cause HIV is a reportable infection). Susan suggested the health department contact Barbara too because of her long-term relationship with Padieu and because Barbara had the names and numbers of additional women. That evening, Susan and Barbara talked, and Susan revealed her HIV diagnosis.
The next day Barbara was tested and learned that she too was HIV-positive. A few days later, Barbara was given additional devasting news—she had AIDS.1 Barbara and Susan made it their mission to contact as many women as possible from Padieu’s cell phone records and urge them to get tested for HIV. Those calls resulted in three more women finding out they, too, carried the AIDS virus.
On May 27, 2007, our investigator, Samme Glasby, prosecutor Lisa Milasky King, and Detective Presley agreed to meet some of the women at Barbara’s home to discuss the status of the investigation, what additional work or information would be necessary, and whether we felt we could gather enough evidence to successfully prosecute this case. At this point we knew of five women who had dated Padieu and were HIV-positive. Barbara met him through an online dating website, Diana was his student in a martial arts class, Jan was a former coworker, Megan was his neighbor, and Susan met him at a restaurant frequented by a mostly middle-aged crowd. (The other women who ended up being part of our case surfaced later, mostly as the result of the news coverage of Padieu’s arrest in July 2007.) Although the women came from diverse backgrounds, they shared common characteristics: They were middle-aged, divorced, had children (some had grandchildren as well), and they all dated Philippe Padieu. These women came together in support of one another in managing a disease they all knew would probably kill them.
Shortly after the group meeting at Barbara’s house, we scheduled individual meetings with each of the women to discuss their personal experience with Padieu. In our meetings, we stressed that we needed to know the good, bad, and ugly details of their lives and relationships to control how this evidence was presented at trial. We stressed Padieu likely knew this information and would be sharing it with his attorney. The only such information we obtained was one woman admitting that she and Padieu visited swingers clubs on three occasions and the Red Light district on a trip to Amster-dam. There was not anything else shocking or surprising that we felt we would affect our case during trial. We also told them that we would need contact information of any other person they had a sexual relationship with prior to and during their time they dated Padieu to establish that these women were not infected by that other man. Only two of the six women had to provide this type of information and, fortunately for us, the men we contacted were more than happy to cooperate. The women knew that testifying was not going to be easy and that unflattering information would be revealed, but nonetheless they remained strong and committed to see this prosecution through to the very end.
We also knew that it was absolutely necessary to prove when Padieu was aware of his HIV status. We knew from Barbara that Padieu had visited the office of Dr. Pedro Checo during their relationship. We obtained a grand jury subpoena for Dr. Checo’s records and found the proof we needed. On September 12, 2005, Padieu met with Dr. Checo and was told he was HIV-positive.
Although we had a concrete date, we believed Padieu knew he was HIV-positive long before September 2005. Our fantastic and dedicated investigator, Samme Glasby, then began a mission of securing additional grand jury subpoenas for Padieu’s work records to find out if he had insurance coverage. From there, she subpoenaed his insurance records, which provided information about the health care providers he had visited; those records were subpoenaed too. Although we did not find evidence of prior HIV testing, we learned Padieu had visited other doctors in the area primarily for STD testing. The records revealed that the doctors not only counseled him on safe sex practices but repeatedly suggested HIV testing. He always refused with the excuse that he was “recently” tested and was negative. (In spite of his long-time claim of a negative HIV test, not one single medical record showing he had been HIV-tested in the past was produced by the defense.)
The charging instrument
We decided to charge Padieu with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and used a prior federal conviction to enhance him to a first-degree felony. We appreciated the assistance Padieu gave us by his prior criminal actions because we felt the second-degree maximum of 20 years was much too low for what he did to these women.
We tapped into a vast pool of talented, seasoned, and experienced prosecutors in our office to draft the indictment. We first met with our Intake/Grand Jury prosecutors. At our meeting, everyone came armed with caselaw about HIV transmissions in sexual assault cases, bodily fluid as a deadly weapon, and any other case they felt would assist us. Once we were satisfied, we presented them to our appellate folks (we like to refer to them as the warranty and repairs division) for review. We then obtained six indictments for the offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
As we prepared for trial, we knew we had to overcome the problems posed by the amount of information from the six victims. We wanted to highlight the dates the victims were in a relationship with the defendant, the dates they were informed they had contracted the various STDs including HIV, and the date Padieu had definitive knowledge of his own infection. We also knew we had three other HIV-positive victims who would testify at punishment, and we needed to convey the same information for them.
We created a timeline that included a photo of each victim, the case number, the victim’s pseudonym and initials, the dates of the relationship, the date Padieu was informed of his HIV status, the date the women testified positive for HIV, and the sample number used for the phylogenetic analysis. We also created a timeline for Padieu showing his STD history. Each timeline was blown up and mounted onto a 3×5-foot posterboard that would allow the jury to compare the relationship dates to the date Padieu was informed of his HIV status. We felt this method of presentation would allow us to concisely highlight the important information and could easily be used by witnesses during testimony and the jury during deliberation to determine the date Padieu definitively knew he was HIV positive and compare it to each relationship.
Although we felt this was going to be the most effective methods of presenting the evidence, it also highlighted one of the weaknesses we had in the case. Of the six victims, four had started their relationship after Padieu knew he was HIV-positive. However, two victims began their relationship prior to this date. This was a problem we would have to solve though the medical evidence.
Our trial plan was to start by highlighting September 12, 2005, the date Dr. Checo had a 35-minute consultation with Padieu and informed him he was HIV-positive. We could then weave all of our victims’ testimony around this date in our effort to prove Padieu’s knowing transmission of HIV.
We also wanted to establish a pattern of behavior that included treatment for various STDs, doctors’ requests for the defendant to get tested for HIV, and Padieu’s continued high-risk behavior in spite of warnings from medical personnel. Based on information from Padieu’s insurance records, we found he had history of visiting doctors for various sexually related infections. We planned on presenting the medical records and medical testimony detailing his doctor visits and phone calls he made along with the advice he was given (and ignored) about safe-sex practices.
We talked with many of the infectious disease doctors who had been treating the victims and decided that we would use Dr. Allen Reuben as a witness to explain HIV. This was an important aspect to the case because we had alleged HIV-infected bodily fluid as a deadly weapon that caused serious bodily injury to the victims. We wanted Dr. Reuben to discuss the method of transmission which mainly follows a pattern of a man infecting a woman. Dr. Reuben could testify that a woman infecting a man was a less likely scenario—important to contradict Padieu’s claim he was infected by one of the victims. Dr. Reuben was also going to help us overcome our problem in the two cases where the women had been dating Padieu prior to September 12, 2005, which had left us unable to prove whether they were infected before or after he knew he had HIV. Dr. Reuben testified about re-infection, which can occur when HIV with a different DNA sequence is transmitted to a person who is already HIV positive. This virus can re-infect the recipient and possibly cause different health issues depending upon its genetic characteristics.
Although six women were positive for HIV and Padieu was the common denominator, we were interested in backing up our case with science. We contacted Dr. Michael Metzker, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Metzker uses phylogenetic analysis to determine the relationship, if any, between HIV samples. We discovered his work after reading one of many articles the victims had sent us about prosecutions based on HIV transmission. After a conference call with Dr. Metzker in August 2007, we felt we could use his expertise to prove or disprove that a significant relationship existed between the seven samples,2 and whether Padieu was the source of infection in the six victims.
Dr. Metzker provided a written protocol as to the collection, transportation, and analysis of each of the seven samples, which was approved by our office. Because Dr. Metzker’s laboratory was not accredited as a crime laboratory as required by §411.0205 of the Government Code, we applied for and received a waiver allowing him to perform this analysis. Upon completion of the accreditation process and pursuant to the protocol, a single victim’s blood sample was taken and driven from McKinney to Houston by our DA investigators Samme Glasby and Bobby Chacon—a process they repeated seven times. The protocol required a blind analysis so each sample was identified only by number to prevent the potential bias by the research team or investigators. Dr. Metzker performed the necessary DNA sequencing procedures on a single sample and decontaminated the laboratory and equipment to eliminate any question of contamination of further samples. It took seven trips and nine months before all the samples and sequencing procedures were completed.
The protocol required the sequencing analysis to be done on two different gene areas of the HIV. This data would be compared to the data of 20 closely related sequences from GenBank, a public DNA database, to determine the genetic relationship between our seven samples and public samples. Failure to show a significant relationship between either the sequence areas on the seven samples or a finding of a significant relationship with the public samples would nullify the hypothesis that Padieu infected the six victims. The news was good when we received the analysis from Dr. Metzker. Not only did he determine that all specimens were significantly related, he could also say that one specimen was the source of the HIV infection with respect to all other samples.
Dr. Metzker had testified before as to the significant relationship that existed between samples in an HIV transmission case,3 but testimony concerning which sample was the source had not been allowed in any U.S. court that we knew about. We knew that if we could qualify Dr. Metzker and phylogenetic analysis in a 702 hearing, the strength of our case would be exponentially greater. As part of the protocol, Dr. Metzker was not informed whether his theory on the source of the infection was correct.
We had known that ABC’s “20/20” news program had been following this case. About a month before trial, we were informed that journalists from the show would be allowed to film parts of the trial but that any identifying information about the victims would not be broadcast. The final court order allowed filming of Dr. Metzker, closing arguments, and the verdict.
This case started on May 19, 2009, and lasted two weeks. During voir dire, community supervision was not an option so the biggest issues we faced were the presumption of innocence (because we were trying six separate cases) and the morality perception surrounding our victims’ conduct. We were able to dispatch the presumption of innocence issue with ease, but we did encounter a few jurors who felt that a person engaging in sexual activity must suffer the consequences of her actions. These people did not make the jury.
Due to scheduling issues with the defense and Dr. Metzker, we were unable to have the 702 hearing until the afternoon following voir dire. Although this was a very complex subject, the use of a PowerPoint presentation and Dr. Metzker’s professional and easygoing personality provided the information the court needed to rule that he would be able to testify to both the significant relationship between all seven samples and that one sample was the source of HIV in the other six.
We started our case with Dr. Checo, who detailed his five visits with Padieu for treatment of chlamydia and urethritis, both sexually transmitted diseases. He encouraged Padieu to get an HIV test due to his lifestyle and to practice safe sex. Padieu always claimed he had been recently tested and refused any HIV testing. Dr. Checo also talked about Padieu’s phone call to the office a short time after being diagnosed with chlamydia where he stated he had been having unprotected sex with his girlfriend and inquired if she needed treatment. In Septem-ber 2005, Padieu finally acquiesced and submitted to an HIV test at Dr. Checo’s request. The most important testimony in this trial was about his 35-minute conversation with Padieu September 12, 2005, regarding his positive HIV test. Interestingly, Padieu never went back to Dr. Checo again.
All six victims discussed their relationships with Padieu. Cross-examination mainly focused on the women’s decisions of quickly entering into a sexual relationship with Padieu and all of the graphic details. Of the six victims who testified, Barbara had the longest relationship with the defendant. She testified that she had paid Dr. Checo for Padieu’s STD testing in September 2005. She used to be a nurse and became extremely anxious when Dr. Checo’s office set up an appointment to tell him about the results. Padieu did not allow her to come into the doctor’s office with him during the consultation so she waited in the car. When he emerged following the revelation that he was HIV positive, she asked him the results: Padieu looked her in the eyes and told her, “I’m HIV-negative.”
Following the testimony of Dr. Reuben, who proved HIV caused serious bodily injury and HIV-infected bodily fluid was a deadly weapon, we were ready to end our case-in-chief with Dr. Metzker. Because we had already been through a dry-run during the 702 hearing, Dr. Metzker did an outstanding job of testifying about the science he used to sequence the genes and the analysis to create the phylogenetic tree showing the “significant relationship” amongst the seven samples. He went into detail about the one sample that stood out as the source of HIV infection. That specimen, of course, belonged to Philippe Padieu.
The defensive theory was Padieu thought the 2005 test results were a false-positive due to the number of women with whom he had had sex who were HIV-negative. During the initial investigation, the Health Authority came up with 26 sexual partners for Padieu.4 He called some of these women to testify as to their HIV status in an effort to support his theory. The defense claim was that he was infected by Barbara after the “false-positive” test and that was why he spread it to the other women.
The jury was out four and a half hours before they returned with guilty verdicts in all six cases.
It is great to start out a punishment case with the introduction of a federal pen packet! Padieu had been sentenced to 20 years in a robbery case where he used a gun.
Unfortunately, there were also more victims to present at punishment. Two of them were from Dallas County, so they were not included in our indictments. One woman testified she had a short relationship with Padieu; at the last sexual encounter she had with him, he was so rough with her that he tore her labia. She ended the relationship.
Approximately a year before trial, our office was contacted by a woman from Michigan. She had dated Padieu in the late 1990s when he was living in the Detroit area. She found out she was HIV-positive and had always believed he infected her. One day she was cleaning out some drawers and came across his business card. She searched his name on the Internet and saw all the news articles that had been written about this case. Although she was not allowed to testify about her HIV status due to the remoteness, she did talk about the last time she dated Padieu: He surprised her by taking her to a swingers party. She had been unaware of this aspect of his lifestyle and ended the relationship.
We met our last victim the Friday night following the first week of trial. Her fiancée called the day before we started testimony because he believed that Padieu was the person who infected this woman with HIV. She met Padieu and dated him a couple of times around September 2005. At the end of September or beginning of October, she engaged in one sex act with him, right after he found out his HIV status. By the time she had figured out why she had so many health problems, the HIV had developed into AIDS. She had kept this hidden from all but her family, but she decided to testify against Padieu.
Although Padieu did not testify during the guilt-innocence stage of the trial, he decided to take the stand at punishment against the advice of his attorneys. The women described him as a gentleman with a personality that most of them had fallen in love with, but this was not the man who testified. There was very little control from his attorney as Padieu rambled about conspiracies and the over-reaching prosecutors who were only out to make a name for themselves and get promoted. He alleged he was infected by one of the women and that they had formed a “hate group” against him. He felt they should be prosecuted for a hate crime. At one point during cross-exam, prosecutor Lisa King told Padieu to look over at the jury and tell them he was the victim—which he did.
The jury took only two hours to sentence Padieu to 45 years in five cases and 25 years in one case (that being his long-term girlfriend, Barbara). Because he will not be eligible for parole until he is around 75, we are very pleased with the verdict. Based on his age and the noticeable deterioration of his health, we are confident that he will never infect another woman again.✤
1 AIDS is generally defined as having a CD4-cell (T-Cell) count below 200.
2 The seven samples consisted of blood from Padieu and the six victims.
3 State v. Schmidt, 699 So.2d 448 (La. 1997); see also State v. Schmidt, 771 So.2d 131 (La. 2000).
4 Some women were HIV-negative, some women would not cooperate, and we believe that there were many women unaccounted for because of the possibility of anonymous sex that occurred at various swingers’ clubs or houses that he frequented.