DA: HIV-Positive Man Poses As Police Officer, Sexually Assaults 15-Year-Old Girl

| by Jared Keever
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A 41-year-old California man is facing multiple felony charges after, authorities say, he abducted and attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl last week in the city of Lancaster. 

Los Angeles County prosecutors told KCAL News they believe Joseph Kenneth Cornett committed the crimes knowing he is HIV-positive.

KTLA reports the alleged attack occurred Friday, as the girl was walking home from school. Prosecutors said Corbett approached the girl, impersonating a police officer, and said he was arresting her for jaywalking. 

KCAL reported the incident occurred Wednesday, but the other details of the story do not differ from the KTLA report. 

According to a news release, cited by KTLA, Cornett then allegedly took the girl to an abandoned trailer and sexually assaulted her. 

The girl eventually escaped and ran to a nearby church where parishioners called authorities. 

“The girl approached the car and explained that she had been attacked,” Ben Hobbs, an employee at Lancaster Baptist Church, told CBS Los Angeles. “At that same time, the assailant was coming across the road, as well. We’re seeing this guy heading back toward those modular buildings, trying to get away, basically.”

Witnesses told KCAL that Cornett ran to his car and attempted to flee, but his car got stuck in sand and he was soon apprehended by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies. 

Cornett reportedly struggled with arresting officers and spit at a number of them. 

Video of his arrest, obtained by KTLA, showed Cornett strapped to a gurney, with his head covered in a hood, being loaded into the back of an ambulance. 

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Cornett has since been charged with nine felony counts including kidnapping to commit rape, assault with intent to commit a felony with a victim under 18, kidnapping, lewd act upon a child, false imprisonment by violence, sexual penetration by foreign object with a minor over 14, attempted forcible rape, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, and attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows self to be infected by HIV.

He also faces seven misdemeanor counts of resisting a peace officer, as well as one misdemeanor count of possession of PCP.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday. 

Cornett is currently being held on $1.2 million bail. If convicted of all charges he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

Sources: KCAL News, KTLA News, Daily Mail 

Photo Credit: Screenshots from KCAL News, KTLA News via Daily Mail