From the Toronto Sun
Donna Hayward is a heavy woman with a kind face, a vulnerable mother of two who fell easily for the smooth-talking Lothario who seemed to look past her weight and into her giving heart.
But now he has been accused of keeping the most heinous of secrets — not just from her, but from so many of his other lovers as well.
Lester Felix, the handsome 28-year-old she has been sleeping with for more than a year, has just been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly having unprotected sex without disclosing he has HIV — a medical condition he has had since 2005.
“Police believe there may be other victims,” their release said last week.
She is one of them.
Hayward sits in her cousin’s Scarborough apartment in a heavy haze of shock and cigarette smoke, her eyes swollen by a torrent of tears, paralyzed with fear as she waits to learn if she is now infected with HIV.
“I’m not that lucky to escape it, I know that,” says Hayward, 32. “If I have this, this a death sentence for me. I just keep thinking about my kids. Last night I cried myself to sleep. I’ll never see my kids finish school; I’ll never see my kids get married. Everybody says to stay positive, but it’s hard to.”
She initially met Felix online through a Facebook group called “BBWS (big boned women) worldwide and the black men who luv them” and began their relationship several days after meeting in person last August at one of the group’s social outings at a downtown club.
She weighed more than 300 pounds at the time — she’s lost about 50 since then — but for the first time, her size wasn’t a handicap.
“I felt that nobody would be interested in me and then there’s this good-looking guy asking me out; I thought he was someone who saw past the outside … ”
There will be many who will blame her for her misfortune, but no one does more than herself. Hayward wanted to use condoms, but says Felix told her he was allergic to latex and assured her he was “clean” — so she agreed to unprotected sex, a mistake she ‘ll always regret.
“You’ve got to be smart. If a guy won’t wear a condom, then don’t be with him because men will tell you anything to get what they want.”
They were together often, but Hayward was sometimes intimate with her children’s father and she was aware Felix was also sleeping with many other women he had met online. In fact, he once asked her to referee between two of his dates who had shown up at his Scarborough apartment at the same time.
She always came to his defence, she says, and even lavished him with presents. Hayward is on disability benefits because she suffers from depression, but after winning a few thousand dollars in a lottery, she gave him whatever he requested, from a cellphone to groceries.
He’s now accused of giving her the most horrible gift in return.
Hayward only learned of his arrest after her Facebook group issued a warning Friday urging anyone who had had sexual contact with Felix to contact police.
“I just burst into tears,” she recalls, “because he knew I had children, he met my children. I can’t believe somebody could be that cold-hearted.”
It has been almost 24 hours since then and the shock is slowly giving way to anger — anger that she might have unwittingly infected her “baby dad;” anger that her time with her two young daughters may have been cut short.
“What right did he have to play God with my life?”
This waiting for test results is torture and part of her yearns to hide until she learns her fate, but Hayward feels she has a duty to go public and encourage Felix’s other partners to get tested and speak to the police as she has.
“It’s embarrassing to come forward, to admit that I was with him, but hopefully me being strong enough to do this will help other people,” she says, her eyes filling with tears once again.
“I know there are other girls. I don’t want him to be able to do this ever again.”