Equestrian Charged With H.I.V.-Related Offense

Published: April 11, 2010

Equestrian Charged With H.I.V.-Related Offense

In Ocala, the heart of Florida’s horse country, the equestrian rider Darren Chiacchia is a boldface name.

Mr. Chiacchia is an Olympic bronze medalist who gained national attention in 2008 when he was thrown from his horse in an accident that put him in a coma and led to a heated debate about the safety of his sport. He jokes that he is Ocala’s second-most-famous resident, behind John Travolta.

In late January, however, Mr. Chiacchia made headlines of a different sort. He was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office after a former sexual partner accused Mr. Chiacchia of exposing him to H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

Mr. Chiacchia, who pleaded not guilty in February, faces up to 30 years in prison under a Florida law passed in 1997 that makes it a felony for people with H.I.V. to have sexual intercourse without informing their partners of their condition. His trial is scheduled to begin in June, his lawyer said.

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