Local News

Bragg Soldier Charged With Infecting Teen With HIV

Posted July 16, 2007 6:54 p.m. EDT
Updated July 17, 2007 1:56 a.m. EDT

— A Fort Bragg soldier is charged with knowingly infecting a teenage boy with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

Officers arrested Pfc. Johnny Lamar Dalton, 25, after a five-month-long investigation by Fort Bragg military police and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. Dalton is attached to the 82nd Airborne.

Dalton first met the unidentified boy, 17, in a gay online chatroom and then in person, said the boy's mother.

In November, Dalton's commander ordered him not to have sex without first telling partners of his illness, said a spokesperson for the 82nd Airborne. Dalton also signed a written order to that effect.

However, Dalton's encounters with the boy, who was in high school, continued, said a military spokesperson.

In February, doctors conducting routine blood tests found that the teen was HIV positive.

"To him, it was like a death sentence," said the boy's mother, who said she was with her son when the doctors told them the results.

"It obviously didn't mean anything for him (Dalton) to do it, because he knew he had it (HIV), and he willingly gave it to someone else," said the victim's mother, who said she keeps her identity hidden for fear of the stigma her family might suffer.

The boy, now 18, and his mother went to Fort Bragg military police and then to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

"My son received it (HIV) unwillingly," said the teen's mother. "If you willingly and knowingly ... and you purposefully do something, you should suffer the consequences."

After five months of investigation, officers arrested Dalton, who is married and has children, and charged him with crimes against nature, assault and assault with a deadly weapon.

Both the boy's mother and military investigators said they are worried that Dalton might have infected other people who have not come forward. The mother said she believes that the Army should have better control over soldiers known to have HIV or AIDS.

"Two families are now suffering because of an unfortunate set of circumstances, and all of us wish we could have prevented it," said Tom Earnhardt, an 82nd Airborne spokesperson.

The teen, who is now 18, is otherwise healthy and is not on medication.

Dalton is being held on $50,000 bond with a preliminary court hearing set for August 2. In addition to criminal charges, he could also be kicked out of the Army.

For the victim's mother, such charges do not erase the damage done to her son's life.

"When someone basically shortens your life, whether it's yours or your child's, you feel cheated," she said.