PHILADELPHIA — Authorities have released on bail a man with AIDS who they say may have paid hundreds of boys and young men to visit his condominium in a fashionable neighborhood and have sex with him.
AIDS telephone hot lines were inundated after the arrest of a man known as "Uncle Ed" was announced Friday. A police mug shot of the man was released, and a hot-line operator said some callers recognized the man as someone they knew more than a decade ago as "Fast Eddie."
Steve Lacheen, one of the suspect's lawyers, on Saturday disputed allegations of dangerous sexual conduct and complained that reports of the arrest were feeding "AIDS hysteria."
Dist. Atty. Lynne Abraham, who announced the arrest, said her office signed an agreement with the suspect and his lawyer letting officials say he was an AIDS patient so those who had sexual contact with him could take appropriate steps.
Abraham would not release the suspect's name because of a state AIDS confidentiality law, but a court official speaking on condition of anonymity identified him as Edward Savitz, 50, and Lacheen confirmed that Saturday.
Savitz was released late Friday after posting 10% of his $3-million bail. He faces a preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual abuse of children, indecent assault and corrupting the morals of a minor.
Savitz is a vice president of the Savitz Organization Inc., a Philadelphia company specializing in the planning and administration of retirement and group benefit plans, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
No one answered the telephone Saturday at Savitz's 23rd-floor condominium in a high-rise near Rittenhouse Square.
Abraham said she chose not to charge the suspect with attempted homicide, as prosecutors elsewhere have when individuals who knew they had AIDS failed to inform their sex partners. She said prosecutors could not prove the man intended to kill people he had sex with.
Neighbors gave authorities information that led to his arrest, Abraham said. Afterward, he admitted he has had AIDS for at least one year, she said.
Local AIDS hot lines were jammed.
"There were 300 to 400 calls packed into a couple of hours," Francis L. Stoffa Jr., executive director of the AIDS Task Force of Philadelphia, said Friday.