Opinion: Former Lindenwood wrestler deserves long sentence in second trial


Photo from the Missouri Department of Corrections

My freshman year started in the fall of 2013, about the time the infamous “Tiger” case broke.

A Lindenwood wrestler, Michael “Tiger” Johnson, was arrested for knowingly exposing multiple people, many of them fellow students, to the HIV virus. One of them contracted the disease.
In July 2015, a St. Charles jury found Johnson guilty of several charges, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. But last month, he was awarded a new trial due to an error made by prosecutors with presenting evidence in his original trial.

If he was not given a fair trial, that is definitely something that needs to be remedied, but I’m a bit concerned that he has received another chance to get free.

Testimony at the trial proved that he was fully aware that he was HIV-positive and that he is legally required to inform his sexual partners of that. But he neglected to inform them.
His original sentence of 30 years was criticized initially by some due to the fact that HIV is not the death sentence that it was when the virus first appeared in the U.S. in the 1980s. This is completely true. There are multiple effective treatments and many people living with HIV/AIDS live full, active and happy lives.

When you get the virus, however, you are then sentenced to a life of being on medication, tracking your viral load and enduring various forms of discrimination in and out of the bedroom. For these reasons, I think intentionally not telling his partners about his condition should absolutely land him 30 years.

As far as the new trial goes, I can only pray that it has a guilty outcome. And as long as there are no more easily avoided problems, I am confident that the court will come to the same conclusion.
What is frustrating to me is that four years later, the people whose lives he has impacted still do not fully have justice. This could have been avoided, and I hope that we see this man brought to justice soon.