LANCASTER – A self-admitted HIV-positive man accused of posing as a police officer to kidnap and sexually assault a girl walking home from school on May 6 is facing new charges for allegedly raping another girl in Lancaster less than a month earlier.
Joseph Kenneth Cornett, 41, was charged Tuesday with nine felony counts in connection with a rape that occurred April 13, according to Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami. The new charges include two counts of rape and one count each of kidnapping to commit rape, assault with intent to commit rape, kidnapping, committing a lewd act on a child, false imprisonment, attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows self to be infected by HIV and furnishing marijuana to a minor, the prosecutor said. The criminal case also includes the special allegation of more than one victim.
In the April 13 incident, a 15-year-old girl was allegedly driven to a deserted area of Lancaster and sexually assaulted twice, according to Hatami.
Cornett appeared at a court hearing Tuesday, where a motion was granted to allow the Sheriff’s Department to use reasonable force in obtaining his blood and saliva samples.
Though Cornett admitted to being HIV-positive, he was refusing to allow authorities to obtain his blood and saliva samples for testing, the prosecutor told the judge in arguing the motion. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shannon Knight also granted the prosecutor’s request to raise Cornett’s bail to $2,275,000 based on the amended charges.
A preliminary hearing setting was scheduled for June 15.
Cornett, who has lived in both Lancaster and North Carolina, is now facing a total of 26 criminal charges in connection with two Lancaster assaults.
He has remained jailed since his arrest on May 6. According to sheriff’s officials, Cornett allegedly approached a 15-year-old girl walking home from school in Lancaster on May 6 and told her that she was being arrested for jaywalking. He then took her to an abandoned mobile classroom near Lancaster Boulevard and 40th Street East where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Detectives said the girl escaped and ran across the street to Lancaster Baptist School where she sought help. When Cornett tried to drive away, his vehicle got stuck in the desert sand and he was arrested, after spitting at and fighting with officers, sheriff’s officials said.
Cornett is facing 17 criminal charges in connection with the May 6 incident, including kidnapping to commit rape, committing a lewd act on a child, sexual penetration by a foreign object, attempted forcible rape, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, assault with intent to commit a felony, kidnapping, false imprisonment and attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows self to be infected by HIV. He is also charged with seven misdemeanor counts of resisting a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of possessing a controlled substance, PCP.
Cornett faces life in prison, if convicted as charged.
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