Women assaulted by HIV-positive man

September 20, 2009 6:02:58 AM PDT
It was a shocking story that made national headlines. A north Texas man who knowingly infected women with HIV and was sentenced to jail for it. We have the Houston connection to the case of Phillipe Padieu and show you how a local victim's advocate and a Houston attorney are helping these women fight back.

It is a horrible betrayal. Dating in the day of AIDS is dangerous enough, even more so when your partner keeps his deadly illness a secret.

"He made me feel like I was the only woman on the face of the earth," said victim Diane on the ABC News program "20/20."

Phillipe Padieu infected his girlfriend without her knowing, but that's just the beginning of this story.

"I called her and I said, 'Can you tell me what's going on?' And she said, 'We need to talk,'" said Diane.

Padieu was apparently quite a romancer. The Dallas-based Romeo was dating at least eight other women, most likely more, and he'd infected many of them with HIV.

In a rare prosecution, Dallas district attorneys charged Padieu with assault with a deadly weapon. In court, Houston doctors proved that deadly weapon was an AIDS virus that could only have come from Padieu.

In May, he was sentenced to 45 years in a Texas prison. But Padieu's shockingly bold story doesn't stop there.

"He's a serial killer. Plain and simple," said Houston crime victim's advocate Andy Kahan.

Kahan got a call from one of the women. Padieu was getting an odd visitor in prison, a romance writer who may've been trying to write and sell Padieu's story.

"For once in my lifetime, I want the victims to have their stories told," said Kahan.

If Padieu makes any money from a book, it goes to the women now. That's because the women are also working with Houston attorney Kim Ogg. Their ex may in prison, but there's more work to do.

"He's given them all lifelong health problems and shortened the lifespan of each and every one of them," Ogg said.

She points out the North Texas Health Departments didn't do enough to reach out to other potential victims and that these women were misdiagnosed by their own doctors. Apparently even medical professionals these days can't believe HIV could happen to them.

"AIDS has a changing face and it just might be yours," said Ogg.

Padieu's defense attorney told "20/20" that Padieu had no obligation to tell his partners of his HIV status and all of the sex was consensual. A Collin County jury apparently disagreed.

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