HIV-Positive Man Found Guilty of Kidnapping, Raping 2 Teens in Lancaster: DA

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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)

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A 42-year-old man was found guilty on 15 felony counts related to the 2015 kidnapping and sexual assault of two teen girls in Lancaster, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s announced Friday morning.

Joseph Kenneth Cornett was convicted on charges including kidnapping to commit rape, forcible rape of a child victim over 14, assault with intent to commit rape of a victim under 18, assault with intent to commit sodomy by use of force on a victim under 18, and sexual penetration by foreign object of a minor 14 or older by means of violence, a news release from the DA’s office stated.

A jury also found Cornett guilty of four felony counts of threatening force or violence against an executive officer.

Allegations that he committed the crimes against multiple victims, and that the victims were 14 or older, were also found true, the release stated.

Cornett was charged in May 2015 with multiple felony counts: kidnapping to commit rape; false imprisonment by violence; sexual penetration by foreign object, and attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows self to be infected by HIV. (Credit: DonLuisMeza)
Cornett was charged in May 2015 with multiple felony counts: kidnapping to commit rape; false imprisonment by violence; sexual penetration by foreign object, and attempted unprotected sexual activity by one who knows self to be infected by HIV. (Credit: DonLuisMeza)

The defendant faces 80 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced, according to the DA’s office.

Cornett, who is HIV positive, was initially charged after allegedly posing as a police officer and telling a 15-year-old girl he was going to arrest her for a jaywalking on May 6, 2015.

He coerced the victim into the car, drove her to an abandoned temporary mobile classroom and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said, citing evidence presented during the trial.

The victim managed to escape and was helped by a group of people at a nearby church.

Cornett was arrested after his attempt to flee failed when his car became stuck in the sand. He fought seven officers and spit at them while they attempted to take him into custody, according to the release.

Less than a month before his arrest, on April 13, 2015, Cornett gave another 15-year-old girl a ride, but prevented her from getting out of the car. Instead, he drove her to a deserted area where he was accused of sexually assaulting the teen twice, prosecutors said.

Cornett is scheduled to appear in court again on April 28 for his sentencing hearing.

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