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April 4, 2013

Rape charge amended to sexual misconduct, assault on family member

Prosecutor: Battered victim can’t clearly recall incident

RICHMOND — A man originally charged with rape in an incident that left his victim with bruises and abrasions “from head to toe” pleaded guilty to amended charges Thursday in Madison Circuit Court.

Wayne Scott Cornett, 45, pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor, and assault on a family member, a Class D felony.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith said the plea deal was made, in part, because of the victim’s inability to fully recall much of what happened because she was intoxicated.

However, she was examined at Pattie A. Clay Hospital the night of the attack, and she had injuries “from head to toe,” Smith said, adding it was mostly bruises and abrasions.

Smith said the victim agreed to the terms of the plea deal. In a procedure not usually performed in Madison Circuit Court, the victim appeared before the judge last week. She was sworn in and then instructed by Judge Jean C. Logue to appear as a witness for the trial that was scheduled to start April 22.

Logue had warned the victim she would be found in contempt of court if she did not appear.

Smith recommended Cornett be sentenced to 12 months, the maximum, on the sexual misconduct charge and two and half years for assault on a family member.

Cornett does not have to register as a sex offender since sexual misconduct is not considered a “registrable” sex offense under Kentucky law.

During his hearing, Cornett’s attorney, Brian Barker, explained that on May 23, Cornett and the woman had been drinking together in a deserted area.

At some point, Cornett decided they should leave and an argument ensued, Barker said.

“In an effort to get (the victim) in the car, he was very rough with her,” Barker said.

Because Cornett has been convicted of prior misdemeanor domestic violence assaults, Barker said the charge of assault on a family member was appropriate in this case.

Cornett’s court file contains a criminal history that is nearly 50 pages in length.

In the sexual misconduct charge, Barker explained that while the two had consensual sex earlier that day, later on the woman was so intoxicated that Cornett now realized she may not have been “legally able” to give consent.

Although Smith said the victim “certainly gave a different story at the time,” the  accepted Cornett’s statement.

On May 23, Madison County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call at 3:30 a.m. in the area of Panola and Knob Lick, according to spokesperson Deputy Willard Reardon.

Cornett and the woman were found at the scene, and the woman was taken to the hospital. While being treated, she told a deputy she had been sexually assaulted, Reardon said.

Cornett originally was charged with first-degree rape, kidnapping and fourth-degree assault. A Madison grand jury later indicted him on the rape charge.

A charge of first-degree rape carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Cornett is not eligible for probation because of the sexual misconduct charge, so he requested that he be sentenced at Thursday’s hearing. Logue agreed and sentenced him to two and a half years in prison (misdemeanor sentences always run concurrently, or at the same time, as felony sentences).

Barker noted that Cornett has served nearly 12 months in jail and already is eligible for parole.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.

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