A man accused of kidnapping and brutally raping a woman in Palo Alto earlier this year pleaded not guilty today to several felony charges, including rape and attempted murder, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said.Santa Clara resident Lionel Blanks, 36, is suspected of abducting the woman from her car early on the morning of May 22 before beating, raping and robbing her, according to police.He pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court today to rape and penetration by force; kidnapping and carjacking; attempted murder; second-degree robbery; and making criminal threats, district attorney’s spokeswoman Amy Cornell said.Blanks faces life in prison if convicted of all counts. The victim told police her ordeal began when she climbed into the passenger seat of her Mercedes, which was parked on El Camino Real, to sleep. The woman is not homeless, police said. She awoke and realized a man had pulled her from the car, police said. He began punching her in the face until she blacked out.The suspect then tied the woman’s wrists and blindfolded her before putting her in the back seat of her car, the victim told police.He drove the woman around for about 20 minutes, asking her for money and threatening her throughout the ride, police said. When she refused to answer some of his questions, he hit her and groped her breasts and buttocks, the victim told police.Finally the man stopped the car and pulled the victim out. He punched her in the face and bound her wrists again before taking her behind a building, where he beat her and tore her clothes off, the victim said.The then raped her and squeezed her neck so she couldn’t breathe.Eventually he got up and ran away with her car keys, the victim said. She ran in the opposite direction and flagged down a passing car.Police spoke with the woman at about 5:25 a.m. at Westwood Elementary School on Saratoga Avenue.Police said she suffered a black eye; swelling and bruising on her face and neck; cuts on her forehead, arms, hands and knees; bruising on her buttocks; vaginal injuries; and loss of consciousness. The victim’s purse — which contained her house keys, three cell phones, a camera, and her driver’s license and credit cards — and torn dress were missing from her car after the attack, police said. Sperm evidenced collected during a sexual assault exam was positively matched to Blanks, according to police.He was arrested May 26 as he was leaving his home, which he shares with his girlfriend and children, about eight miles from the site of the rape, police said.Blanks allegedly tried to run from police when he was arrested.He will appear in court Dec. 14 for a preliminary hearing, Cornell said.
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Stephan J. Dougan, Personal Injury Attorney
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