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Ex-Convict Found Guilty of Raping Blind Student

Times Staff Writer

A Panorama City man who once attended California State University, Northridge, in a program for ex-convicts was convicted Monday of raping a legally blind student in a dormitory at the school.

Joseph R. Taylor, 27, was found guilty by a San Fernando Superior Court jury of one count each of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, rape by force and burglary. The charges stemmed from the rape of the 17-year-old blind student and an assault on her roommate at University Towers Apartments on Sept. 11, 1984, eight days after Taylor was paroled from prison on a robbery conviction.

Taylor, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, now faces a sanity hearing, scheduled to begin Nov. 18.

If jurors determine that he was sane at the time of the assaults, Taylor could be sentenced to as much as 37 years in state prison, Deputy Dist. Atty. Kent Cahill said. If jurors decide that he was not sane when the crimes were committed, he will be sentenced to a state mental hospital, Cahill said.

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Taylor was identified as the assailant by both the 18-year-old roommate and the blind student, who peered at him through a six-inch monocular as she testified during the trial. The woman said that she can see at distances only when using the monocular, which resembles a pocket telescope.

The teen-ager testified that Taylor followed her from a lounge in the dormitory and forced his way into her room, where he raped her at knifepoint. The student’s roommate said that Taylor tied her with tape and took $20 from her purse before fleeing.

Taylor, who was no longer a student at the school at the time of the assaults, admitted he was on the campus that night but denied attacking the women. His attorney, Lawrence Elkins, challenged the witnesses’ ability to identify their assailant.

Testimony at a hearing following the verdict showed that Taylor had five prior felony counts against him, three for robbery, one for attempted kidnaping and one for residential burglary. The hearing was called to certify Taylor’s record for consideration in his sentencing.

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