New charges for sex offender with AIDS

November 22, 2010 9:36:23 AM PST
Prosecutors brought new charges Wednesday against a sex offender with AIDS, calling him a "walking public health menace" who preyed on nine young men and potentially exposed them to the disease. Robert Musmacker, a 36-year-old newspaper deliveryman from Oceanside, was arrested in December after he was found with his pants unbuckled and a 16-year-old in the passenger seat during an early morning traffic stop.

He had been accused of only that one case until Wednesday, when prosecutors said that he had eight other victims, from ages 16 to 20.

Musmacker pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on charges of reckless endangerment, criminal sex acts and endangering the welfare of a child.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said medical privacy laws prevent him from revealing whether any of the alleged victims had contracted HIV or AIDS. He also noted New York law does not allow him to prosecute the suspect on charges of intentionally spreading the disease, adding he intends to ask state lawmakers to consider a change in the law.

Spota said Musmacker faces a maximum of seven years if convicted of the most serious charge.

"On the other hand, each of the victims of this crime have been sentenced in our view to a lifetime of worry and testing," he said.

The prosecutor said Musmacker, "in behavior typical to pedophiles" who groom their victims, gave the boys cell phones, prepaid phone cards, alcohol and marijuana.

Musmaker's attorney, Jack Byrnes, left the courthouse without speaking with reporters. He did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Musmacker was required to register as a sex offender because of a 1992 sodomy conviction involving a 6-year-old relative. He was released from prison in 2001.

When he was stopped by a state trooper in December, Musmacker possessed AIDS medication, which he said was for treatment of "full-blown AIDS," the prosecutor said. He also advised the officer he was taking antibiotics to treat an open lesion in his mouth.

The Musmacker case is somewhat reminiscent of the 1990s prosecution of Nushawn Williams, an HIV-positive man who admitted trading drugs for sex with girls in upstate New York. He knowingly infected at least 13 women with HIV and was sentenced to serve four to 12 years in state prison.