Man with HIV found guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting two Lancaster teens

A man was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting two teenage girls in Lancaster within a one-month period last year, prosecutors said Friday.

A jury found Joseph Kenneth Cornett, 42, guilty of 15 felony counts late Thursday, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Cornett was convicted of two counts each of kidnapping to commit rape, lewd act upon a child and forcible rape of child victim over 14; one count each of assault with intent to commit rape of a victim under 18, assault with intent to commit sodomy by use of force of a victim under 18, sexual penetration by foreign object of minor 14 or older by means of violence, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and furnishing marijuana to minor over 14; and four counts of threatening force or violence against an executive officer.

Cornett, who told police he is HIV positive, was also found guilty of three misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and one misdemeanor count of possession of PCP, prosecutors said. The jury found true allegations that the crimes were committed against multiple victims and that the victims were children 14 or older.

Prosecutors said that last April, Cornett gave a 15-year-old girl a ride but then prevented her from leaving the car. He then drove her to a deserted area on the far east side of Lancaster and sexually assaulted her twice.

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More than two weeks later, in May, Cornett approached another 15-year-old girl who was walking home from school. He posed as a police officer and told the girl he was arresting her for jaywalking, according to prosecutor Jon Hatami.

Cornett then took the girl to an abandoned mobile classroom in Lancaster and sexually assaulted her, Hatami said.

The girl managed to escape and get help from parishioners at a nearby church.

Cornett tried to drive away before authorities arrived, but his vehicle was stuck in the desert sand, authorities said.

He fought with seven Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and spat on them during the confrontation, deputies said.

Cornett faces more than 80 years to life in state prison. His sentencing is scheduled for April 28.

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