Olympian Discusses HIV Arrest

March 29, 2010

BUFFALO, NY – For the first time since his arrest, Western New York Olympic equestrian Darren Chiacchia is speaking about his case.  Back in January, Chiacchia was arrested and charged with a felony: not informing his partner at the time that he was H.I.V. positive.  “This for sure has been one of the challenging periods of my life,” said Chiacchia during an exclusive interview with 2 On Your Side’s Scott Brown on Monday.

by Scott Brown

For Chiacchia to say that, is saying a lot.

It was exactly two years ago this week when Chiacchia took a horrific fall during an competition in Florida that left him in a coma for weeks and with neurological damage.

Now Chiacchia stands accused of a felony.

Scott Brown: “You’ve been been charged in Florida, the police report says they have you on tape admitting you had unprotected sex with this person, what can you tell us?”

Darren Chiacchia: “I think all of us have been in a situation where a relationship has gone bad and that’s difficult for any of us and people react to that differently. This individual has unfortunately chosen this method of reaction.

“This is an unfortunate symptom of being an accomplished person, where you can become a target in many areas of your life.”

Scott Brown: “Is this an embarrassment for you?”

Darren Chiacchia: “No again, I think having put myself in a position of having achieved in my life which then makes me a target, so that would then mean that I’m embarrassed about my achievements, and of course I’m not.”

Scott Brown: “Why did you agree to do this interview?”

Darren Chiacchia: “There are fragments of this story out and about, although there’s very little I can talk about due to the nature of the case, it’s an opportunity to get a little of my message out to people. People have been so incredibly supportive of me- through my career, through my accident and everything. That’s Buffalo, that’s one of the special things about being a Buffalonian, and I felt that the public, especially the local public, deserved to hear from me.”

Chiacchia says the time he now has to devote to his legal case will prevent him from competing in this year’s world championships, which was a goal of his when he got hurt.

Scott Brown: “Do you think you’ll be able to complete and qualify for the 2012 Olympics?”

Darren Chiacchia: “You know I can say honestly I was thinking ‘oh, do I want to sort of at least take my career as far as London (in 2012), I kind of had an all right run and maybe we’ll focus on other things.’ But now I’m more determined than ever, I want those games and I want them bad.”

Scott Brown: “However long it takes for this legal situation to play out, what do you think the end result is going to be?”

Darren Chiacchia: “I think the day will come, sooner than later, where we put this behind us and focus all of our time and energy on productive things.”

Scott Brown: “Are you very confident you’ll be vindicated here?”

Darren Chiacchia: “Yes.”

Chiacchia’s attorney, Baron Coleman, declined to comment on Chiacchia’s H.I.V. status.

Coleman says typically this type of cases wind up either with the charges dropped, or a plea deal.

Trial is scheduled for Sept 2010.  Story updated here.

If you are charged or are defending someone accused of exposing others to HIV, visit the HIV Innocence Group for assistance.