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Man Sentenced to 100 Years to Life for Kidnapping, Sexually Assaulting Two Lancaster Teens

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Joseph Kenneth Cornett was seen wearing a face mask after spitting at deputies while he was being arrested on May 6 for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager in Lancaster on May 11, 2015. (Credit: DonLuisMeza)

A 42-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 100 years to life in prison for kidnapped and sexually assaulting two teenage girls in Lancaster, prosecutors said.

Joseph Kenneth Cornett was convicted in March of a total of 15 felony counts, including kidnapping to commit rape, lewd act upon a child, forcible rape of a child victim and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Cornett was also initially charged with “attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows self to be infected by HIV,”  Deputy DA Jon Hatami stated in an earlier news release.

The two attacks occurred within weeks of each other in remote areas of Lancaster.

The first assault took place in April 2015. In that case, Cornett offered to give a girl a ride home in his car and then refused to let her out, the release stated.

He drove the 15-year-old to an isolated area and sexually assaulted her twice, according to the DA’s office.

A month later, prosecutors said Cornett posed as a police officer when he approached another 15-year-old girl as she was walking home from school.

He was able to coerce the girl into getting into his car after threatening to arrest her for jaywalking. He then drove her to an abandoned mobile classroom where he sexually assaulted her, according to evidence presented during the trial.

The teenager was able to escape and ran to get help at a nearby church where someone called authorities.

Cornett attempted to drive away, but his car got stuck in the sand. He fought with seven deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and spit at them while they attempted to take him into custody, according to prosecutors.

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 also ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.