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Woman who revealed AIDS info gets a year


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POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2009
                       
This story has been corrected.  See below.

A 22-year-old woman was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison for illegally accessing another woman's medical records and posting on a MySpace page that she had HIV.

;[Preview]    Hawaii Straub Technician Sentenced for Unauthorized Computer Access
  ;[Preview]
 

Rhonda Wong-Fernandez, 22, pleaded for a lighter sentence in court after she posted messages about another woman on the Internet.

Watch ]

 

Rhonda Wong-Fernandez also was sentenced to five years' probation and 200 hours of community service by Circuit Judge Randal Lee for first-degree unauthorized computer access, a felony.

Deputy Public Defender Alan Komagome sought a deferred acceptance of a no-contest plea, but Lee denied his request, describing the offense as “;egregious”; against the victim, 24, who died in April.

“;This kind of conduct will not be tolerated,”; said Lee.

There was a feud between the victim and the victim's sister-in-law, a friend of Wong-Fernandez, according to Lee. Wong-Fernandez, who worked as a patient service representative at Straub Clinic & Hospital, accessed the computer for the victim's sister-in-law. The victim was a patient at Straub Hospital.

Between March 2007 and January 2008, Wong-Fernandez illegally accessed the patient's medical records three times through a computer, said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter in court yesterday. After she learned of the victim's medical condition, Wong-Fernandez posted on her MySpace page that the victim had HIV. In a second posting, she said the victim was dying of AIDS.

Van Marter said the postings had a negative impact on the victim's personal life and relationship with friends who had access to MySpace.

The victim complained to hospital officials of the unauthorized access. Wong- Fernandez was terminated from Straub following an internal investigation.

“;We take patient confidentiality seriously,”; said hospital spokeswoman Claire Tong.

Wong-Fernandez apologized for her actions in Lee's courtroom yesterday.

“;At the time that these events took place, I acted selfishly and didn't think of the consequences until the damage was done,”; she said through tears. “;I am deeply sorry for the hurt and anger I've caused.”;

Van Marter sought a 30-day jail sentence, but Lee instead sentenced her to a year, saying young adults need to understand the Internet cannot be used for unlawful conduct.

“;It did cause serious harm. This is someone's personal information which was revealed to the world,”; said Lee.

Komagome sought a delay in Wong-Fernandez's sentencing so she can care for her 5-month-old daughter. She has two other daughters, ages 1 and 2. Lee denied the request. Komagome declined to comment after sentencing.

 

 

               

     

 

CORRECTION

       

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

       

» Claire Tong is spokeswoman for Straub Clinic & Hospital. Her last name was misspelled in an article on Page 10 yesterday.