Arkansas Man Deliberately Contracted HIV so He Could Infect Other People

Stephen Koch, 25, will spend 50 years in prison

An Arkansas man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after admitting in court to intentionally contracting HIV so he could infect other people with the disease.

Stephen Koch, 25, of Scranton, Arkansas, appeared in court on Monday to plead guilty to multiple charges, including attempting to expose another person to HIV, possession of meth, and eight counts of distributing or viewing child pornography. PEOPLE confirms he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his crimes.

After prosecutors presented the allegations, Circuit Judge Robin Green appeared incredulous. “Just so I can get my brain around this, did I understand the state correctly?” she asked, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “Mr. Koch intentionally contracted the HIV virus so he could then infect others?”

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.According to the newspaper, Koch confirmed that it was true, and characterized his actions as self-destructive.

The judge told Koch his actions could hurt others, and wondered if that was his motive. “Was that the reason?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

Benton County Jail

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According to court documents obtained by KNWA and other local news outlets, Benton County prosecutors were searching Koch’s computer for child pornography when they discovered that he had infected himself with HIV. (It is not clear how he did so.)

In court on Monday, the prosecutor said Koch was making plans for a double date on which he planned to infect people with the disease.

Koch will be required to register as a sex offender. While incarcerated, he will need to complete a sex offender treatment program. Upon his release, he can have no unsupervised contact with minors.

An attorney for Koch did not immediately return PEOPLE’s call for comment.

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