April 8, 2022 • By Dennis Beaver
I was in our office late this past New Year’s Eve and answered the phone. When lawyers get calls on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, invariably it is something complicated and has been brewing for a while, as “Drew,” calling from Dallas, nervously explained.
“I am being asked to pay a million dollars to a woman I had a one night stand with or she will tell my wife that I gave her herpes! But I never had herpes before this. I am so scared and embarrassed! I have the money and can pay, but should I?”
I would learn that my caller is a highly successful home builder who admits to being the poster child for one of the many good reasons to be faithful to your spouse.
“I’ve read your column for years and thought that if anyone would be safe in discussing this situation with, it would be you. May I give you some history?”
And what a history it was!
You Gave me Herpes!
“I was in Arizona, visiting a job site about a month ago and looked up ‘Doris,’ who has been a family friend for many years. I am 62 and she is in her late 50’s, recently widowed. We never had a physical relationship, until this one time after having dinner and consuming more than an appropriate amount of alcohol.
“After dinner, we went to my motel room and were intimate, agreeing this would be the one and only time. It has proven to be the greatest mistake of my life. Not only was I unfaithful to my wife, but then, two days after the fling, Doris texted, saying that she had developed herpes and it was my fault!
“I immediately got tested, and to my surprise, I was infected! But I never had herpes and my wife does not have herpes. The only way I could have been infected was from Doris, as I have not been with any other woman my entire married life of over 30 years.”
I’ve Consulted an Attorney who got over $7 Million”
The text from Doris stated:
“To leave you alone — and not tell your wife or anyone — my figure is $1 million. I spoke to a lawyer who got a victim over $7 million and wants my case. I found out from the public health department that herpes is a lifelong battle requiring blood tests monthly and daily medication.
“My pain and suffering is almost unbearable. Because of you, this is now my life. You have no idea what I’m going thru, and what lies ahead for me. I don’t think I’m out of line with the amount, as you are wealthy. I am facing life-long medical treatment.”
While dramatic, much of what Doris wrote is completely wrong, exaggerated and looks as if she was coached what to write. But could Drew be successfully sued?
What Did You Know and When Did You Know It?
While there have been large jury verdicts for knowingly and intentionally exposing a partner to sexually transmitted diseases — and there are state laws dealing with the issue of criminal responsibility — guilt is not easily established, in part because many people are infected but are completely unaware.
Also, the time line of their intimacy to her demand for money is more than suspicious, as the incubation period for an initial herpes infection is several days, not one day, according to the CDC. To skeptical lawyers and people in law enforcement, Doris can be seen as having a case of Ima. “Ima Fraud” tattooed on her forehead.
An Opinion and Recommendation from Law Enforcement
I ran this story by a friend of this column, Tony Mosley, a 25-year veteran of the Bakersfield Police Department, recently retired as a detective, and asked for his recommendations.
“Your reader must come clean with his wife. Hopefully they can get past this. If he pays, $1 million will turn into $2 million and so on. So, he must tell Doris, ‘No, I’m not paying you.’
“Drew should definitely file a police report and have his attorney also warn her of potential civil liability for harassment and defamation if she spreads rumors about giving her herpes.”
Frozen By Fear
I’ve had several conversations with Drew, and I’m worried. He keeps on repeating, “But I can pay her to get it over with! I went through a major lawsuit for years and don’t want to get close to a courthouse! Anyway, she is leaving me alone for the time being, so maybe all this will just go away.”
However, Mosley cautions, “Anyone blackmailed can’t ignore it. You’ve got to save all texts and voice mails. Realize these are dangerous situations when money is paid, and then friends of the blackmailer show up, asking for more. By paying anything, these stories do not end well.
“We have all seen movies about a blackmail victim fed up with increasing demands for money, leading to murder. This is not an exaggeration. These things happen and Drew needs to act now to prevent himself being sucked into the quicksand that is out there, waiting for him.”
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.