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Calif. physician's assistant charged in attacks

Posted: January 31, 2013 2:40 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2013 2:40 p.m.

Booking photo of Lonnie Scott Keith, a California physician's assistant, charged with assaults on two women who were forced into vehicles, injected with a substance, bound and assaulted.

 

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a Northern California physician assistant with assaults on two women who were forced into vehicles, injected with a substance that made them drowsy and had their hands and feet bound, police said.

Lonnie Scott Keith, 40, pleaded not guilty to rape, assault with intent to commit rape and two kidnapping counts on Wednesday in two separate incidents near the California State University, Chico campus last September and October, The Enterprise Record of Chico reported (http://bit.ly/WAMUbs ). The victims were both students in their early 20s and were walking alone in the early morning hours when they were taken.

Detectives found two syringes containing an unknown clear substance, a stun gun, vials of prescription drugs, rubber gloves, plastic ties and metal handcuffs and restraints inside Keith's sedan after he was arrested over the weekend following a traffic stop near the campus, Chico police said.

The detectives were conducting surveillance in the area following the attacks when they spotted the vehicle.

The vials and metal handcuffs and leg restraints were inside a concealed compartment under the front passenger seat, and windows in the vehicle were partially covered with blankets and bedding, according to police.

Several of the vials contained a substance found in toxicology tests of one of the victims, Lt. Mike O'Brien said. He said the vehicle appeared staged for another assault.

Keith is married and has four children and is employed as a physician assistant at Oroville Medical Center and Enloe Occupational Health, according to police. Physician assistants can function much like doctors. They can conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, assist in surgeries and prescribe medications, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Keith has no prior arrest record. O'Brien told The Associated Press he's being investigated as a possible suspect in 10 other assaults or attempted assaults in the area going back to 2011 — many of them also involving college-aged women.

O'Brien did not know whether he had an attorney. A call to the Butte County District Attorney's Office was not immediately returned.

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