HIV-Positive Man Abducts, Sexually Assaults Lancaster Girl While Posing as Police Officer: DA

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A 41-year-old man pleaded not guilty Monday to abducting a 15-year-old girl while pretending to be a police officer, and then sexually assaulting her in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Joseph Kenneth Cornett allegedly confronted the girl as she was walking home from school around 3 p.m. Friday, and claimed he was arresting her for jaywalking, a news release from the DA's office stated.

Instead, Cornett, who is HIV positive, took the girl to an abandoned portable classroom near Lancaster Boulevard and 40th Street East and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said.

The teenager managed to escape and get help from people at a nearby church, the release stated.

Cornett attempted to drive away, but his vehicle became stuck in the sand.

He was eventually taken into custody after fighting with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies and spitting at them, prosecutors said.

Video of his arrest showed Cornett strapped to a gurney with his head covered by a mask as he was loaded into an ambulance.

Cornett was charged with nine felony counts: kidnapping to commit rape; assault with intent to commit a felony, victim under 18; kidnapping; lewd act upon a child; false imprisonment by violence; sexual penetration by foreign object, 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 was also charged with seven misdemeanor counts of resisting a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of possessing a controlled substance, PCP.

Cornett entered a not guilty plea during an appearance at the Antelope Valley Branch of Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday. He was due back in court May 21 and was being held on $1.2 million bail.

If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison.

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