LANCASTER – A 41-year-old man was arrested Wednesday afternoon for allegedly luring a girl into his car by posing as law enforcement and then sexually assaulting the girl in an abandoned mobile classroom across the street from Lancaster Baptist School, authorities said.
Joseph Cornett was captured after his vehicle got stuck in the desert about 300 yards away from where the alleged assault took place, according to Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau. Hudson said the attack occurred sometime between 3:30 and 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 6.
“A 15-year-old female was walking in the area of 20th Street East and Avenue J when the suspect drove up to her in a vehicle. He made statements to her that made her believe that he might be a law enforcement official,” Hudson said. “He coerced her into getting into his vehicle under the guise that he was going to give her a ride home.”
The assailant instead drove the victim to a lot in the 4000 block of East Lancaster Boulevard where there are several abandoned mobile classrooms, according to Hudson.
“He took her into one of the trailers where he sexually assaulted her,” Hudson said. “During the course of the assault she managed to break free and run into the parking lot of Lancaster Baptist. She basically ran up to people that were leaving the parking lot and she was able to have them summon help for her.”
Hudson said the assailant first chased the victim into the parking lot, but then he retreated to his vehicle and tried to escape by driving through the desert.
“He got about 300 yards away from where the assault took place and then his car got stuck,” Hudson said. “That’s where responding deputies from Lancaster Station took him into custody – while he was still in his vehicle in the desert.”
Cornett resisted arrest, and deputies had to use a Taser to subdue him, according to a Lancaster Sheriff’s Station crime broadcast.
The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
“It was very fortunate that she was able to break free and summon these Good Samaritans to come to her aid,” Hudson said, adding that it was the Good Samaritans who directed deputies to Cornett’s location.