Judge refuses bail for Providence man charged with rape

Booking photo for Richard R. Cornell (Courtesy: Cache County Jail)

LOGAN — A judge has refused to allow bail for a 73-year-old Providence man arrested and charged with raping a woman more than a year ago. Richard R. Cornell has been behind bars since March 2, 2020.

Cornell participated in a virtual hearing in 1st District Court Wednesday morning, appearing by web conference from jail. He was previously charged with object rape and two counts of forcible sodomy, all first-degree felonies; attempted forcible sodomy, and two counts of forcible sexual abuse, all second-degree felonies.

Earlier this month, defense attorney Ryan Holdaway asked for Cornell to be released on bail, noting that although there was no state statute defining a speedy trial timeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, the delay has been frustrating. He requested the court to consider reevaluating options for the defendant to be released, while protecting the public.

Holdaway had said, just because Cornell is charged with a crime, it doesn’t mean the defendant is a threat to the community. He noted, his client had been an “exemplary citizen” until the incident allegedly occurred last year.

During that same hearing, Cache County Deputy Attorney Dane Murray disagreed, and said it didn’t matter what Cornell’s history was when you consider the allegations. He told the court, the suspect’s family had expressed fear if the defendant was granted pretrial release.

Judge Brian Cannell ruled during Wednesday’s hearing, Cornell would continue to be held in jail since there hasn’t been any change in circumstances to justify his release. He said the ruling came after the court reviewed the issue, including recent legislation that has modified bail statutes in Utah.

Last March, Cache County sheriff’s deputies were called after a woman went to CAPSA for help. She described how she had allegedly been raped by Cornell, who was an acquaintance.

The woman called Cornell from the sheriff’s office, so deputies could record the conversation. The suspect apologized to her and said it never should have happened. He then allegedly stated that he had prayed about it, and she should go home, “take a shower, and forget it ever happened.”

Investigators noted that Cornell was still wearing the same clothes the victim described him having on when the rape occurred. They also filed for a warrant to collect his DNA.

Deputies also questioned Cornell, who previously worked in law enforcement, military police and federal court security. He refused to cooperate without his lawyer.

A three day trial was originally scheduled for last October. The trial was later cancelled though, due to a current Utah Supreme Court Ruling, prohibiting in-person jury trials.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Cannell said the court anticipates in-person trials resuming this summer. When they do, incarcerated suspects like Cornell will be given priority to the first trial dates. He ordered the suspect to appear again in court April 28 for a status hearing.

Cornell didn’t speak during the hearing. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.


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