Robin Williams found out the hard way that a high profile affair can not only get you in trouble with your wife, but can also have serious financial repercussions. In 1986, a cocktail waitress, whom the actor was having extra-marital relations with, claimed he had infected her with the sexually transmitted disease (STD) genital herpes. Michelle Tish Carter attempted to sue Williams for $6.2 million before the claim was finally settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
In court papers the Good Morning Vietnam star made no mention as to whether he was carrying the disease or not, but did admit to the affair with Carter, whom he met after a show in a bar in 1984, The New York Times reports.
It is also reported that both Williams and Carter confessed to not having discussed the matter of sexual health before embarking on a physical relationship. The comedian’s lawyer argued that those who do not engage in a dialogue on the issue before sex and do not insist on the use of condoms, should assume they are at risk. Otherwise, he said, the courthouse would be open “to any forlorn lover whose affair has come to an unexpected end,” according to the New York Times.
The ethical and legal issues surrounding sexually transmitted infections have been at the centre of debate and subsequent change over the past few decades. Fifty years ago, such cases did not reach the courtroom due to shame associated with STDs. Now, herpes litigation in California states that those who fail to tell their partners about their condition or lie when asked are making themselves liable and that, in the eyes of the court, health concerns outweigh the right to privacy.
Herpes affects 45 millions Americans, MedicineNet states, with another 20 millions infected with HPV (also known as genital warts and believed to cause cervical cancer). Although effective treatment is available, both viruses are incurable and will remain with the carrier for the rest of their lives. Herpes causes painful lesions around the penis or vagina, which are often accompanied by flu-like symptoms.
Another celebrity who was in the midst of a court battle over herpes is actress Liza Minnelli.
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