A HIV-positive Indiana woman has been jailed for having sex with her boyfriend’s underage son and only disclosing her infection afterward.
Local media reported Friday that a Vigo County judge sentenced Lisa Custer, 21, to 12 and a half years in prison under a plea agreement. She had pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a minor and failure to warn of a communicable disease.
According to prosecutors, Custer was staying with a friend when she became sexually interested in his 15-year-old son. She told the teen that she wanted to have sex with him, but didn’t inform him until two days after the encounter that she was HIV-positive, they alleged.
Not disclosing a communicable disease before a sexual encounter is a crime in Indiana. Vigo County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts said that the law is meant to prevent the spread of diseases.
“The fact still remains, that anytime you have one person that’s infected and they’re not warning others, then they’re probably not taking the necessary precautions to prevent that spread,” Roberts told Fox affiluate WTHI. “We certainly don’t want to have one of those major outbreaks here in Vigo County.”
Custer’s prison sentence could be significantly reduced if she complies with a substance abuse and treatment plan during her incarceration. After completing the program, she could ask to be placed on work release for two years followed by two years of home detention.
Beyond Lisa Custer
While men commit most sexual abuse against minors, female perpetrators account for a significant percentage of such cases. In a 2015 study, University of Oklahoma sociologist David Axlyn McLeod looked at almost every substantiated child sexual abuse case reported to child protective services in the United States in 2010. He concluded that women were primarily responsible for more than 20 percent of them.
Many of the most high-profile cases involve female teachers. A 2017 study published by the U.S. Justice Department revealed that women account for a large and growing minority of the sexual abuse committed by educators against students.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology tested the theory that “male teachers are judged more harshly than female teachers for engaging in heterosexual intercourse with a student. According to the researchers, “a reverse sexual double standard was revealed, in which participants judged situations involving male teachers more harshly than they judged situations involving female teachers, but only when the sexual contact was teacher-initiated.”
However, experts have warned that gender stereotypes – of women as harmless nurturers and teen boys as sexually insatiable – can cause child molestation by women to be overlooked and underreported.
“Other gender stereotypes prevent effective responses, such as the trope that men are sexually insatiable. Aware of the popular misconception that, for men, all sex is welcome, male victims often feel too embarrassed to report sexual victimization,” UCLA researchers wrote in a 2017 essay for Scientific America. “If they do report it, they are frequently met with a response that assumes no real harm was done.”