LANCASTER – A 41-year-old HIV-positive man who allegedly posed as a police officer in order to kidnap and sexually assault a teenage girl walking home from school in Lancaster pleaded not guilty Monday to multiple felony sex charges.
Joseph Kenneth Cornett is charged with one felony count each of kidnapping to commit rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment by violence, attempted forcible rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object, committing a lewd act on a child, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and assault with intent to commit a felony.
A ninth count alleges that Cornett knew he was HIV-positive when he tried to have unprotected sex with the girl.
Cornett also faces seven misdemeanor counts of resisting a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of possessing a controlled substance, PCP.
Cornett pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday and is due back in court May 21 for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
Cornett is accused of approaching the 15-year-old victim on May 6 and claiming to be a police officer arresting her for jaywalking, according to Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami.
Sheriff’s detectives said Cornett picked up the girl from the area of 20th Street East and Avenue J in Lancaster between 3:30 and 4 p.m.
The defendant then allegedly took the girl to an abandoned mobile classroom near Lancaster Boulevard and 40th Street East and sexually assaulted her, the prosecutor said.
Detectives said the girl escaped and ran across the street to Lancaster Baptist School where she sought help.
Cornett attempted to flee the scene but his vehicle became stuck in the desert sand and he was soon arrested after fighting with the officers and spitting at them, according to the prosecutor.
Deputies used a Taser to subdue Cornett, according to a Lancaster Sheriff’s Station crime broadcast, and he was carried away on a stretcher with a hood over his head commonly known as a “spit mask.”
If convicted as charged, Cornett faces life in prison. He is being held on $1.4 million bail, which includes $1,275,000 for the most recent charges and $140,000 for previous cases, according to LASD inmate records.
The case is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
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