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Wyoming County Press Examiner

TUNKHANNCOK – A Wyoming County inmate infected with Hepatitis C and HIV was charged on Friday with several counts of assault for spitting on another inmate last month.

Crystal Visnesky, 34, is charged with aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, aggravated harassment by prisoner, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.

Awaiting sentencing last Wednesday for a simple assault, Visnesky was being held at the county jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

The sentencing was postponed after Visnesky spit in the face of another inmate on Dec. 16.

According to the criminal complaint, jail Warden Mickey Ameigh contacted borough police on Dec. 16 to report the spitting incident.

The warden told police that Visnesky had advised the facility's nurse she was infected with Hepatitis C and HIV.

The incident happened while the inmates were in a gym, according to the criminal complaint.

An analysis of Visnesky's blood on Dec. 24 tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C.

The other inmate, who is no longer incarcerated, told police on Tuesday that Visnesky spit in her face.

Visnesky denied spitting in the woman's face, according to the criminal complaint.

She, however, said she did get into an argument with the other woman, who Visnesky called a "mooch" and a "child molester."

The criminal complaint alleges Visnesky put the other woman in serious bodily injury under "circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life."

Under the assault by prisoner charge, the criminal complaint states Visnesky did cause the other woman to come into contact with saliva, knowing the fluid was infected by communicable diseases.

According to the Center for Disease Control, HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, sharing needles with someone who is infected and transfusions of inflected blood.

The CDC states that contact with saliva, tears or sweat has never been shown to result in the transmission of HIV.

Hepatitis C, a viral infection of the liver, is spread when blood of an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected.

Dr. Drew Ambler, an infectious disease specialist at Geisinger in Danville, said HIV and Hepatitis C are primarily transmitted through the exchange of blood and semen, but not saliva or tears.

Skumanick said a prisoner can be charged with assault if bodily fluid is transferred, including spit.

He added Visnesky's actions could constitute "an extreme indifference to the value of human life" because she spit in the other person's face.

With HIV and Hepatitis C in the spit, Visnesky could have transmitted the viruses, according to Skumanick.

The charges were filed on Friday in the office of Magisterial District Judge Carl Smith.

Skumanick noted a preliminary hearing for Visnesky has not been scheduled.

He added Visnesky faces a possible maximum sentence of up to 20 years in state prison.