A California man is facing trial, accused of being a serial rapist who knowingly exposed his victims to the HIV virus.
Joseph Paul Courtney, a 32-year-old man from Pacifica, pleaded not guilty in court last week to 41 felony counts including sodomy by force and sodomy of an unconscious person. He is accused of drugging his victims and videotaping himself and others assaulting unconscious men over a seven-year period.
Courtney was arrested in 2016 after one of his alleged victims, who had initially agreed to meet him for consensual sex, was allegedly shown a recording of himself being assaulted by Courtney and other men after regaining consciousness from drugs that were given to him without his consent. That alleged victim reported Courtney to Pacifica police, according to the Mercury News.
Since Courtney’s initial arrest, more men have come forward with similar allegations – including one who is autistic and was only 16 at the time of his alleged assault.
Criminal complaints against Courtney, obtained by the Mercury News, also allege that Courtney committed the offenses knowing he has AIDS.
Prosecutors continue to search for “unidentified male associates” who are seen in the videotapes assaulting the unconscious men.
Steven Chase, Courtney’s defense attorney, claims the events stemmed from “consensual sex” and that the alleged victims voluntarily ingested drugs to have an “enhanced sexual experience.”
Courtney reportedly met some or all of the alleged victims at a local motel after connecting with them on a gay dating website or via a smart phone app. Courtney’s defense attorney claims the men knew they were meeting for drugs and sex.
“It’s a different world these men are in,” Chase told the San Mateo Daily Journal.
The Bay Area Reporter states that at the time of Courtney’s arrest Pacifica police had been investigating him for over a year.
Courtney faces life in prison if found guilty. He is scheduled to appear in San Mateo Superior Court in Redwood City, south of San Francisco, on July 31 for the start of his jury trial.
Photo: Pacifica Police Department