Michael L. Johnson was a high school wrestling star. As a senior at Warren Central (Indianapolis) High School in 2010, he became a state wrestling champion after beating an opponent who was a shoe-in for the title.
Later, he became a member of the wrestling team at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
Today, Johnson is sitting in a jail cell.
The 21-year-old, who has HIV, is accused of exposing at least five sexual partners to the AIDS-causing virus without their knowledge.
The former Lindenwood student was arrested Oct. 10 after a five-month investigation that began when a man contacted the St. Charles Police Department. The man told police that he was diagnosed with HIV and gonorrhea about a month after he and Johnson had sex in Johnson’s dorm on the Lindenwood campus, according to court records.
More come forward
Last week, the St. Charles County prosecutor’s office filed additional charges against Johnson after four more men came forward within two weeks of Johnson’s arrest. He is now facing five felonies: one count of recklessly infecting another with HIV, a Class A felony, and four counts of recklessly exposing someone to the risk of infection, a Class B felony.
In Missouri, a Class A felony is punishable by 10 years to lifetime imprisonment, and a Class B felony by five to 15 years in prison.
Detective Sgt. Todd Wilson, spokesman for the St. Charles Police Department, said all of the men are Lindenwood University students and at least one met Johnson through social media.
A spokeswoman for St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said Johnson was diagnosed with HIV on Jan. 7.
Johnson told detectives that over the past year he has had five to 10 sexual partners. Documents said Johnson neither wore a condom nor told the partners that he has HIV. Two of them asked Johnson if he has any diseases, to which he said no.
Kyle White, Johnson’s friend from high school, said he was shocked and saddened by the news of Johnson’s arrest.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said White, who also was a member of the wrestling team at Warren Central. “He was able to go to college and make his life better, and that ends up happening. I feel like it ruined everything that he worked for.”
White said Johnson is one of the best wrestlers he knows.
“He was excited when he won the state title. I trained with him all year,” he said. “I was happy for him.”
A state champion
Johnson won the Indiana High School Athletic Association wrestling title in February 2010. The following month, The Indianapolis Star named him the 2010 Indianapolis Star Super Team Player.
“I had so many people rooting for me,” Johnson told The Star after he won the state title. “There were people that I had just met at the tournament, which was really nice, and I had the whole Warren family.”
He also told The Star that his mother raised him and his three brothers by herself and that he dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal.
More recently, on Oct. 9 — a day before his arrest — Johnson posted on his Facebook page that he “m(e)ssed up big time” and he had learned to “never m(e)ss up again.”
Johnson is being held on a $100,000 bond at St. Charles County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in court for a status update on Tuesday.
Kristine Guerra also writes for the Indianapolis Star. Star reporter Michael Pointer and Star researcher Cathy Knapp contributed to this story.