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U.K. Businessman Says He Contracted HIV After Being Raped in South African Prison

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Apr 30, 2012

The business partner to openly gay U.K. rugby star Gareth Thomas recently told the British newspaper the Metro about how he was the victim of several rapes during his 19-month stint in a South African prison.

The attacks, Sean Smith says, left him HIV positive.

Smith, 42, was put behind bars on suspicion of a multi-million-pound fraud. The businessman became a regular target for prison rape and was attacked up to eight times a day. He shared a cell with 90 inmates while in jail in 2007.

"They did it not just as part of gang dominance but in my case it was showing supremacy over a white man -- I was the only one there," Smith said. "It went on for months -- there wasn't much left of me by then anyway... I was pretty much a skeleton."

After 9 months in jail Smith found out that he had contracted the HIV virus.

"At that point I didn't give a damn, I was broken, I was broken physically, mentally, I had nothing left, I had no spirit at all so I didn't care," he added.

Once Smith was granted bail he hid in the truck of a British High Commission's car and escaped to Lesotho -- a tiny kingdom surrounded by South Africa that is one of the vestiges of the colonization of Southern Africa. Metro notes that since leaving the prison, Smith has been diagnosed with lymphoma on the brain.

Smith's business partner, Thomas, publicly came out of the closet in December 2009. "It's been really tough for me, hiding who I really am, and I don't want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby, or some frightened young kid," the rugby legend said.


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