HOUSTON – A prominent Houston pastor has been ordered to pay $2.45 million to a woman that a jury found he gave herpes to.
After a three-day trial and six and a half hours of deliberation, the jury unanimously found Rev. Ralph D. West II liable.
“You can’t fix it, she’s got it for the rest of her life,” said Shaun Murphy, an attorney.
Murphy spoke for his client, who a jury found contracted genital herpes from West after meeting on Facebook. As seen on the Church Without Wall’s website, he’s listed as the Eldridge Campus Minister.
“The things that we look at for cases like these are essentially four things. Is the defendant infected and how can we prove it? Did he know he was infected, do we have evidence of that?” said Murphy.
He added that he was able to prove those facts, along with evidence showing West lied about having herpes and spreading it when he and the woman had unprotected sex in March 2018.
“She got an outbreak two or three days later and then went and got tested. From there, through the medical records, we were able to identify that he was the source of it, in part, because she hadn’t been with anybody else, she had a prior negative test,” Murphy said.
Murphy said subsequent conversations supported the claims.
“When she asks, ‘Where did this come from?’ His response was, his son’s mother,” Murphy said.
He adds there were also emails between West and his client.
“Where she accuses him of knowing he had it, of giving it to her and there are other allegations about not caring about me and that kind of thing,” Murphy said.
The response, Murphy said, was telling.
“He never once denied that he had it or that he knew he had it,” Murphy said.
West declined to comment.
Murphy says his client does feel a sense of relief and vindication with the $2.45 million judgment.
Aside from the financial aspect, he said she hopes this spreads awareness that people can and should be held accountable for knowingly putting their partner at risk for STDs.