Philippe's deadly weapon

Our sex life turned out to be a real killer...

Published by: Amy Thompson and Sharon Ward
Published on: 10th May 2010

Driving home from a night out, I couldn’t wait to fall into bed. I’d had a long day, teaching martial arts at the school I ran with my boyfriend Philippe, then meeting the girls at a restaurant.
What I needed now was a nice cuppa and a good night’s rest.
But as I drove past the building where I taught, something caught my eye – a black Corvette parked outside. It was Philippe’s car.
Blimey, he’s working late! Well, I’d pop in, give him a cuddle and persuade him to come home.
The place was in darkness as I walked in. ‘Philippe?’ I called.
No answer. The only sound was my heels on the wooden floor.
Suddenly, the door swung open – and there was my man in the doorway. ‘You made me jump!’ I gasped. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Sorry,’ he said, quickly. ‘Yeah, I fell asleep after training. You woke me up.’
‘Oh,’ I smiled, relieved. ‘Well, why don’t you…’
Then I saw it – a familiar brown leather handbag resting on a chair next to the door. Philippe wasn’t leaving the room – he was blocking my entrance.
‘Who’s in there?’ I demanded.
‘No one!’
Rubbish! I pushed past him. Hiding behind the door was Kirsty, a pretty young student. Right now, she looked as guilty as sin. It didn’t take a genius to figure out why.
‘Get out,’ I spat. Kirsty grabbed her bag and hurried from the room.
‘Look, forgive me,’ begged Philippe, 53. ‘We kissed, but that was it. It was a stupid mistake.’
‘Forgive you? She’s 23! Young enough to be your daughter!’
‘I know. I’m so sorry,’ he pleaded. ‘I don’t know what came over me.’
He was crying, actually crying. I’d never seen him do that the whole time we were together. Maybe he really had just kissed her…
I needed time to think.
‘Go home,’ I seethed. ‘I’ll call you later.’
All that night and the next day, I kept replaying the scene in my head. In four years, Philippe hadn’t let me down, and we’d just put down a deposit on a house. Now this!
Most women would’ve probably dumped him, but something was stopping me. Yes, I was 53 and had been through two divorces, so some might think it was because I was afraid to be alone. But it was more than that – after all I had two beautiful adult daughters Stacy and Megan, so I wouldn’t be left with no one.
But since I’d met Philippe through a dating website, he’d been my soulmate. I’d never loved anyone like I loved him. We both liked keeping fit, and rhythm and blues music. We’d travelled the world together teaching martial arts.
We had so much to look forward to with our new house almost built… Could I really throw it all away because of one kiss?
‘I’ll give it another go,’ I told him.
‘Thank you,’ he breathed. ‘You won’t regret it.’
Things were almost back to normal three weeks on. Waiting for him to show up to a family meal one night though, I got a call.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I can’t make it, I’m really sick.’
‘No problem,’ I replied. ‘Hope you feel better soon, honey.’
Suspicion niggled, though. If he was ill at home, why had he called on his mobile and not his landline?
I made my excuses, left the restaurant and – surprise, surprise, Philippe wasn’t at home sick. There was no sign of him.
He’d lied to me, made a fool of me. The only thing left was to find out how much of a fool I’d been.
As Philippe’s mobile was registered in my name I called the phone company, got the password, and listened to his voicemail.
‘Honey, sorry I couldn’t go out with you tonight,’ a woman’s voice said on his phone.
Then another woman’s voice. ‘Sunday afternoon is great. See you then!’
My blood boiled. The lying…! He’d been seeing at least two other women! That was it.
When he finally pulled up at his place, I Iet him have it.
‘Okay,’ he admitted. ‘Yes, I’ve been seeing other women.’
That was all?! ‘We’re over,’ I spat.
‘Fine,’ he muttered, letting me in to collect my clothes.
Back home, I broke down. How could he have done this? I thought my heart would never heal. But something in me refused to let me give up. I battled on, tried to focus on taking each day as it came.
Then, as if I didn’t have enough to deal with… ‘You need to come into the surgery,’ my doctor told me after a routine smear test. ‘I’m afraid I have bad news.’
I listened carefully.
‘We found abnormal cells in your cervix caused by the human papilloma virus – it’s a sexually- transmitted disease,’ she said.
An…? I’d got an STD?! I felt sick. The man I’d loved for four years had broken my heart and given me an STD to boot!
Suddenly, another thought hit me – who had he got it from?
I knew he’d slept with two other women while he’d been with me. What if there were more? Did he know he had this infection? And would he tell women if he did?
I couldn’t face talking to him, and certainly didn’t trust him to do the right thing. No, it was down to me to clean up his mess.
Hands shaking, I riffled through his phone bill, noting each number I didn’t recognise. Then I took a deep breath to steady my voice, and dialed the first number.
What the hell would I say – ‘Hi, you don’t know me, but I think my boyfriend gave you an STD. Or perhaps he got it from you’?
A woman’s voice interrupted my thoughts. Oh God, this was embarrassing.
‘Hi,’ I started. ‘My name’s Diane, I think you might know my ex-boyfriend, Philippe Padieu?’
‘Yes,’ she said, guiltily.
‘Look, I’m not calling to have a go at you,’ I sighed. ‘There’s something you should know…’
Launching into my explanation, I had no idea how I was staying so calm. I should’ve been ranting and raving at this woman for having it off with my fella. Instead, I felt sorry for her.
I of all people knew how convincing Philippe could be. He’d pulled the wool over my eyes for four years, and I’d thought I’d known him inside and out.
It turned out I hadn’t known him at all. By the end of my calls, I’d spoken to nine women who’d slept with Philippe during our relationship.
How the hell had he found the time?! We’d spent practically every day together, stayed around each other’s houses nearly every night.
No point dwelling on it now though. I swallowed down my disgust at him – at least the worst was over, I could get treated and move on knowing I’d done the right thing.
A few months passed and I threw myself into work. It took my mind off things but left me exhausted at the end of each day. Funny, I’d always coped pretty well in the past. Maybe my age was starting to get the better of me. How many women my age taught martial arts all day long?
Flopping on to my sofa one day, the phone rang. It was my local health department.
‘You need to come in,’ a consultant told me. ‘One of the women who slept with Philippe tested positive for HIV.’
My hand tightened on the phone as the meaning sank in. HIV positive? Didn’t that mean…
‘A-am I going to die?’ I stammered, trembling.
‘We don’t know anything until we’ve tested you,’ she reassured, calmly. ‘You just need to get yourself to the clinic as soon as possible. Try not to worry.’
‘Okay,’ I nodded, hanging up.
Waiting for my test results was agony. I racked my brain for any symptoms I might have. I thought back to when I’d stayed at Philippe’s place. If he was HIV positive, he’d have had treatment. I’d have seen it in his medicine cabinet… there’d been no sign. That was it then, he didn’t have it.
No. This poor girl had been a dealt a terrible fate, but it wasn’t going to happen to me. It was bad enough Philippe had given me an STD, but HIV?
I refused to think about it. I knew I was worrying over nothing. By the time the doctor called again, I felt confident.
‘I’m sorry Diane,’ she said, gently. ‘You’re HIV positive.’
My knees buckled. Collapsing to the floor, heavy sobs shook my body. How could this be happening? How could someone I loved, thought I’d known, give me a death sentence?
As I sat shaking on the floor,
I felt like the world was crashing down around me. It wasn’t fair,
I’d done nothing to deserve this. I’d been faithful, I had never
slept around…
I cried until there were no tears left. But there was no escaping reality. Like it or not, I was going to have to deal with this.
Somehow, I dragged myself to the clinic for more tests. It wasn’t good news. The results showed I’d already progressed to AIDS and my immune system was ruined. I only had 30 per cent kidney function, too.
‘But I haven’t been ill,’ I said, numb. ‘I just felt a bit tired, but that’s normal after a stressful break-up.’
‘The tiredness was a symptom,’ explained
the doctor.
I wanted to curl up and forget the world, and just feel sorry for myself, but I couldn’t. Fact was, there was something I had to do.
Back home, I picked up the phone, a sense of déjà vu washing over me as I prepared to call the other women I knew Philippe had slept with.
How could I tell all those women what I’d just been told? I had to, though. If I’d known about the HIV sooner, had treatment, I wouldn’t have AIDS now. If I could stop just one other woman going through this, I would. 
Breaking the news was probably the worst thing I’d ever done. Hearing them sob down the phone, hear their voices quivering as they checked whether or not I was joking… I felt so guilty, like I was responsible for bringing their world crashing down on them. But I wasn’t – that was all down to Philippe. Just wait until I told him.
I’d one more woman to call, then it was going to be his turn.
Funny though, this woman – Megan – didn’t sob like
the others.
‘I just found out I’m HIV positive, too,’ Megan told me. ‘I confronted Philippe, but he didn’t seem surprised. It was like he knew he had it all along.’
Fury exploded. Surely Philippe hadn’t knowingly infected women?
I jabbed his number into my phone, ready to have it out with him. Then I stopped. Megan said he’d refused to talk to her after she’d confronted him. He was hardly likely to confess all to me.
Determined to get to the bottom of things, I called the police who contacted Philippe’s doctor. He said Philippe had known he was HIV positive since at least 2005 – a whole year before we broke up.
The worst part was, if Philippe had taken medication, he wouldn’t have been infectious. Instead, he’d just slept around, knowing he was spreading the deadly disease.
‘If we can find other women to testify, he could face a prison sentence for this,’ the police said.
Me and Megan decided to wait outside his house, ready to speak to any woman who went in.
‘They’ll think we’re jealous psychos,’ she worried, as we lurked in an alleyway out of sight.
‘I don’t care,’ I replied. ‘We can’t do nothing.’
Each day we waited, collaring women as they approached his door. At first they looked startled, but they all took us seriously.
In the end, there were six of us who would testify against him out of 12 he’d infected with HIV.
Philippe was arrested and stood trial at Collin County Court, Texas, in May last year. He’d infected women aged from 23 to 65. We even found a woman he’d infected back in 1997.
He pleaded not guilty, but his doctor’s testimony was damning.
Philippe Padieu was found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
As for me, the damage to my kidneys is irreparable. Soon my life will depend on dialysis. But I’ve learned I’m a fighter. With medication, I’m coping – and I still run my business.
When I met Philippe I wanted to share everything with him. If only I’d known what he was sharing with me...
Diane Reeve, 58, Dallas, Texas