Victim in intentional HIV transmission case says stricter laws needed to protect women
It started as an online romance. Nicole Fiumara said a man in Illinois earned her trust as a kind-hearted soul who had struggled to find romance after the death of his wife.
“It appeared he had the character of someone I would want to share my life with,” she said.
Fiumara invited him to live wither in her Southwest Florida home and within hours of his arrival, she said she discovered he had a secret past.
Rondan Keith was a registered sex offender, and this wasn’t the only secret he was keeping from Fiumara.
Fiumara said she let Keith explain it away. She said she wanted to believe he was a changed man and deserved a second chance.
In May 2015, he was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender in Florida, and Fiumara bailed him out of jail.
That’s when she said she started seeing red flags and was not sure if she wanted him in her home any longer. She said she decided to revoke his bond.
At that point, she said Keith began harassing her with phone calls and letters from behind bars.
She got a restraining order, and court records show he violated it, going back to jail again.
When he was released, she said, he slept in her driveway and continued to send threatening text messages.
She said on Thanksgiving day in 2015 she woke up to the scariest text message she’d ever seen in her life.
“He identified himself as being HIV positive and said he had intentionally tried to give it to me so that no man would ever want me and I’d be bound to him forever.”
That month, the Cape Coral Police department arrested Keith on a misdemeanor stalking charge, and he was later sentenced to a year in jail. In December 2016, after evidence had been gathered to show that Keith was in fact HIV positive, he was charged with felony aggravated stalking and intentional transmission of HIV.
“What he did was no different than trying to shoot me and have the gun misfire,” said Fiumara, who has since tested negative for HIV several times.
Keith’s trial was initially set for late 2017 but several delays pushed the case back to February 2018.
“Each time it happened, it felt like it was never going to end,” said Fiumara,
She said Keith continued to harass her from behind bars. She told the court about a letter he sent her depicting a gunman shooting her in the head.
But she said, the worse part of the entire ordeal is that she never got to tell her story to a jury after years of waiting for justice.
Keith took a plea deal and was sentenced to four years in prison followed by four years of probation.
Fiumara said she was not in agreement with the plea deal and gave a tear-filled testimony to the court, stating that she felt the State Attorney’s office failed her.
“Was I expecting him to get 10 years, no. Was I expecting him to get more than 4, absolutely,” she later told WINK News.
Each charge Keith was facing carried a maximum sentence of only 5 years.
A WINK News Investigation showed that Florida allows stricter sentencing for some property crimes over some sexual victim crimes.
Fiumara said now she plans to advocate to create stricter penalties so no other victims have to live with a plea deal that leaves them feeling unsafe.
“This man is going to come for me when this is over. This man wants revenge on me,” she said.
WINK News reached out to Keith’s attorney for comment but has not received a reply.
The Florida legislature would have to pass laws to change sentencing penalties. There are a number of committees that make rules related to the judicial system: