Father Is Suspected of Giving AIDS to Son, 5

From United Press International

A man who may have passed the AIDS virus to his 5-year-old son by sodomizing the boy may face charges connected with the child's apparently AIDS-related death, authorities said Monday.

Michael Henderson Sr. was scheduled to appear in court Thursday in Vista for a preliminary hearing on charges of child molestation in the alleged sexual assault of his son, Michael Jr.

But those charges could change in the wake of the boy's death Sunday at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for AIDS, San Diego County Deputy Dist. Atty. Harry Elias said.

Elias said prosecutors were awaiting autopsy results before proceeding with the case. "The autopsy tells you what the exact cause of death is," he said. "You cannot charge somebody until you have that."

Henderson tested positive for the HIV virus in the mid-1980s while serving in the Marine Corps in the Philippines, detective Howard Beardsley of the Los Angeles Police Department said.

After he received the test results, Henderson was given a general medical discharge and returned to live with his wife and two children near Camp Pendleton, said Beardsley, who initially investigated the case.

Henderson "said he contracted the HIV virus four months after having a sexual encounter with another man in the Philippines," Beardsley said. But "the Marines apparently sent him home and gave him a medical discharge because he was having seizures, not because he tested positive for the HIV virus."

Michael Henderson was diagnosed with AIDS last year, after a prolonged and unexplained illness.

The boy told authorities in Los Angeles he had been sodomized by his father while the family was living in Oceanside, Beardsley said.

Karen Rosen, the San Diego prosecutor handling the case, said the boy also repeated the allegation to officials in San Diego County.

"Through statements made by the child, we believe that the (sodomy) occurred between October 1987 and October 1988," she said.

Henderson has denied his son's allegations. He was arrested and jailed in San Diego County in June but was released when prosecutors were forced to postpone his preliminary hearing, Rosen said.

"We couldn't go forward with the case because of the child's health--we were risking dismissal," she said. "Henderson agreed to a continuance if we released him on his own recognizance and he has showed up for subsequent hearings."

Thursday's hearing is likely to be postponed because it could interfere with plans for the child's funeral, she said.

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