Nadja Benaissa, member of German girl group No Angels, has apologized to a German court for having intercourse with three different partners and not disclosing that she carries HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
“I am sorry with all my heart,” Benaissa, 28, told justices at the District Court of Darmstadt on August 16. She described herself as feeling “absolutely careless” for having sex with three men on five occasions without first discussing her condition. She also said she was fully prepared to accept the legal consequences.
The mother-of-one faces three charges of attempted aggravated assault for having unprotected sex with the three men, and one charge of aggravated assault because one of the men has since tested positive for HIV. A verdict is expected on August 26, and a conviction of aggravated assault could carry a ten-year sentence.
“I never wanted this to happen to one of my partners,” Benaissa said. She will call on an AIDS expert later this week who will testify that the HIV-positive plaintiff could have become infected by another partner.
Benaissa, who said she began using crack cocaine at age 14, discovered her HIV status after becoming pregnant in 1999. She was just 16 years old. Because the sexual encounters in question took place between 2000 and 2004, she is being tried in a juvenile court.
In her opening statement, the singer said she hid her condition to shield her daughter from harassment, and to prevent No Angels from falling apart. “I’d been told the likelihood of infecting someone or that I would develop the illness [Aids] was more or less zero,” she said. “For that reason, I kept the news, even from my close group of friends. I didn’t want my daughter to be stigmatized. I told the band members because I trusted them but I never made it public because I feared that it would mean the end of the band.”
The 34-year old man who claims he contracted HIV from Benaissa won’t accept that as an excuse. “You have created a lot of suffering in the world,” he told the singer in court. He said he learned about Benaissa’s HIV status from her aunt and underwent an HIV test as soon as he could.
Police arrested Benaissa in April 2009 in front of fans at a Frankfurt night club, just before the group was set to take the stage. After serving 10 days on remand custody, the half-Roma, half-Moroccan singer publicly revealed her condition. In July 2009, she discussed her condition during a candid television interview.
“I can’t just go anywhere I like and be free and be a normal person. I now have this stamp. I will do my best to make the most of it,” she said. “I am actually completely healthy, not sick. I am HIV positive. Being HIV positive doesn’t mean being ill. If the disease breaks out it is called AIDS. I have a completely normal life expectancy.”
Nadja discusses her HIV infection / Nadja Benaissa über ihre HIV-Infektion in December 2009:
No Angels shot to fame in 2000 during the first season of the German reality series Popstars. The group had a number of hits in central Europe, including “Daylight in Your Eyes” and “Rivers of Joy,” before splitting up in 2003. In 2007 the group reunited to compete at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, where they finished a disappointing 23rd.
No Angels performing “Disappear” at Eurovision in 2008.