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Cornelius Florman — Reynolds Metals heir convicted of 1986 Bon Air rape — arrested in alleged Florida attack

October 10, 2017

A Reynolds Metals heir was arrested Tuesday on a fugitive warrant on charges alleging sexual battery and kidnapping in Florida.

Cornelius Francis Florman, 51, was arrested at his home in Low Moor, in Alleghany County, near West Virginia around 1:30 p.m., said Frank Schermer, supervisor in the western part of Virginia for the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Details were not immediately available, but Schermer said the warrant alleged sexual battery and kidnapping and was from Lee County, Fla. Records show he was being held at the Alleghany County Jail on Tuesday afternoon.

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in July, documents filed seeking an order from Alleghany County Circuit Court for a DNA sample from Florman alleged that DNA linked Florman to the 1998 sexual battery of a then-44-year-old woman who was abducted and knocked unconscious after leaving a bar in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., in Lee County on June 22, 1998. The Lee County Sheriff’s office said it was investigating sexual battery, kidnapping and carjacking.

Florman, the great-grandson of the founder of Reynolds Metals, Richard S. Reynolds Sr., was convicted of a 1986 rape in Chesterfield County. He was tried twice, but not convicted, in Henrico County of the 1986 rape of a woman who was attacked in her home.

Authorities in Lee County, Fla., sent evidence recovered from the 1998 victim to a DNA lab last year as part of a national effort to test backlogged physical evidence kits in sexual assaults. A search of offender databases produced a hit, matching the Florida suspect’s DNA to that of Florman, according to a Nov. 23 report from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.

Florman’s lawyer, Melvin S. Black of Miami, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But he said in July that he was aware of the investigation and that he was committed to fight any charges and prove Florman’s innocence.

An affidavit from a detective with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office filed in Alleghany County, said the victim reported that she left a bar in Fort Myers Beach between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. and was approached in the parking lot by a man who asked for a ride. She said she agreed to drive him a short distance.

Once in her car, the man punched her in the face, knocking her unconscious. She awoke in a passenger seat, attempted to yell and flee and was knocked unconscious again. She next remembered being pulled from the vehicle into a wooded area where he had intercourse with her against her will.

After the attack she asked him to drive her to her residence. She was able to flee from the car when it came to a stop. The victim had “multiple bruises and abrasions on (her) eye, face, back arms and legs,” authorities reported at the time.

Florman also was also charged with a 1986 attempted rape in Louisville, Ky., in which he ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser charges of wanton endangerment and burglary and was given a 7½-year suspended sentence. In 1992, he was convicted of two misdemeanors in Dallas County, Texas, for assaulting a hotel maid. In 1993 he was convicted of exposing himself inside a Henrico department store.

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