PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - A former player with the Canadian Football League has been granted full parole after serving two years in prison for knowingly exposing two women to the virus that causes AIDS.
Trevis Smith made his case Wednesday before the National Parole Board in Prince Albert, Sask., where he is serving a six-year sentence at a federal penitentiary.
The panel said it believes Smith has insight into what he did and will be a manageable risk when released Feb. 25.
The married father of two, originally from Alabama, was a starting middle linebacker with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for seven years before he was arrested in 2005. He was convicted two years later on two counts of aggravated sexual assault.
The parole board said a deportation order against Smith will be executed once he is released and he will have to return to the United States.
Smith sat answering questions from the board for more than an hour, at one point taking a break to wipe sweat dripping from his shaved head.
The 32-year-old quietly said embarrassment and denial of his HIV diagnosis and poor communication skills led to his crime. He has completed a sex offender course and learned from his mistakes behind bars.
"As bad as it may seem, this is probably the best thing that ever happened to me," Smith said.
He told the board he no longer expects to be a professional athlete.
He plans to rejoin his wife and two children in Alabama, become a substitute teacher and coach football. When the board questioned whether he would be allowed to work with children, Smith said it shouldn't be a problem.
"I won't have a criminal record in Alabama."
If he plans to return to Canada over the next four years, Smith will have to let government officials know beforehand. He is also barred from having any contact with the women who took him to court.
The two victims, a woman from Regina and another from British Columbia, both testified at his trial that Smith had unprotected sex with them and denied he was HIV-positive.
The woman from B.C. also testified the football player didn't even tell her about his condition when she talked about donating a kidney to her ailing father.
Both victims were tested but did not contract HIV.
Smith testified in his own defence. He said he told the B.C. woman about his diagnosis when he first found out and they then started used condoms. He also testified he didn't have sex with the Regina victim after his positive test.
But the judge hearing the case didn't believe him. The judge said Smith only disclosed his health status when cornered by police, and he was more concerned with his football career than what he had done to his victims.
Another woman from Regina, who was not a victim in the court case, attended the parole hearing and asked the board to keep Smith behind bars.
The woman, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, helped spark the investigation against Smith. Her positive HIV test led to him being tested in 2003.
"I believe Mr. Smith will be a danger to the community," the woman said, wiping away tears. "He lives in a world of denial and selfishness."
The board said reports have described Smith as a impulsive, hyper-sexed man with an inflated ego and sense of entitlement.
But Smith said isolated time in prison has helped him realize he needs to change and that family is the most important thing in his life.
He said he will now work hard to be faithful to his wife, Tamika, who supported him throughout the trial, despite evidence of his numerous affairs.
"You're a lucky man she still supports you after what you've done," said board member Terry Elliott.