LANCASTER – An HIV-positive North Carolina man is facing nine felony charges and eight misdemeanors in connection with the May 6 kidnapping and sexual assault of a girl in Lancaster.
Joseph Kenneth Cornett, 41, was charged Friday with kidnapping to commit rape, assault with intent to commit rape, kidnapping, lewd act upon a child, false imprisonment, sexual penetration by foreign object, attempted forcible rape, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows himself to be infected by HIV, according to court records.
Cornett is also charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (PCP) and seven counts of resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer, court records show.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred Wednesday afternoon in East Lancaster.
Sheriff’s officials said Cornett pretended to be a law enforcement officer in order to lure a 15-year-old girl into his vehicle. Cornett allegedly kidnapped the girl from the area of 20th Street East and Avenue J and took her to an abandoned mobile classroom across the street from Lancaster Baptist School where he sexually assaulted her, according to Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau.
Hudson said the girl managed to escape during the course of the assault and was able to run into the school’s parking lot and get help.
Cornett tried to flee the scene but his vehicle got stuck in the desert about 300 yards away from where the alleged assault took place, Hudson said.
The 41-year-old resisted arrest and deputies had to use a Taser to subdue him, according to a Lancaster Sheriff’s Station crime broadcast.
Cornett was to be arraigned in court Friday, and prosecutors would have requested to raise his bail from $100,000 to $1.2 million. But the arraignment was continued to Monday, May 11, at the Antelope Valley courthouse.
Updated 5.9.15 -Editor’s note: An update to the LASD inmate system shows that Cornett’s bail is now set at $1,415,000.00. This includes $1,275,000 bail for the May 6 incident and a combined total of $140,000 for four previous criminal cases. An address in Charlotte, North Carolina, is listed for Cornett on his May 6 arrest record. However, a previous local arrest record for Cornett in 2013 listed an East Lancaster home address.
Updated 5.11.14: Joseph Cornett pleaded not guilty to all charges today and he is due back in court May 21 for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.Read our follow-up story here.
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