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Pastor Ordered to Pay $2.45M in Herpes Case

Jury found Texas megachurch pastor liable for giving woman genital herpes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2023 9:56 AM CDT
Jury Finds Pastor Liable for Giving Woman Herpes
The verdict was the largest of its kind in state history.   (Getty Images/Zolnierek)

A pastor at a Houston megachurch was spreading more than the good word, a jury determined. The Rev. Ralph D. West II was ordered to pay $2.45 million to a woman who said he infected her with genital herpes, KPRC reports. After a three-day trial, the jury found the Church Without Walls pastor liable for battery, intentionally inflicting emotional distress, and fraudulent concealment, reports Fox 26. Attorney Shaun Murphy said West, son of the church's founder, had unprotected sex with the woman after meeting on Facebook in 2018. He said evidence shows the pastor lied about not having herpes.

"She got an outbreak two or three days later and then went and got tested. From there, through the medical records, we were able to identify that he was the source of it, in part, because she hadn't been with anybody else, she had a prior negative test," Murphy said. He said that in conversations with his client, West said he had been infected by "his son's mother," and "never once denied that he had it or that he knew he had it." He said his client feels relief and vindication with the verdict, but "you can't fix it, she's got it for the rest of her life." The verdict includes $1,450,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

Murphy has won several other cases involving victims of genital herpes transmission. The verdict in this case was the largest of its kind in Texas history. "I suspect there are many people who don't know that in every state in the US, it is unlawful for a person who knows they have a sexually transmitted disease to communicate the disease to another person through sexual contact or to even have sexual contact with another person unless they have informed their partner that they are infected with a sexually transmitted disease," Murphy said, per Fox 26. (More Texas stories.)

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