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Jacob Blake pleads not guilty to charges prior to Kenosha shooting

Jacob Blake (bottom right), the Black man who was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, appears virtually in a court proceeding related to charges filed prior to the shooting incident which sparked anti-racism protests across the nation, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S., September 4, 2020 in this framegrab from court TV. Kenosha County Court/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Black man whose shooting by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, reignited nationwide protests over racism and police brutality, pleaded not guilty on Friday to criminal charges filed prior to the shooting.

A complaint accuses Blake of criminal trespass, third-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct based on statements by his ex-girlfriend at the time, the mother of three of his children, who told police Blake broke into her home on May 3 and sexually assaulted her before stealing her truck and debit card.

Blake entered the plea through his lawyer during a livestreamed court hearing, his first public appearance since he was shot in the back by a white Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23.

Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down by the shooting, was propped up in his hospital bed, dressed in a blue shirt and yellow tie, with his lawyer, Patrick Cafferty, sitting in a chair to his side.

Cafferty noted that Blake had been working as a painter and that he had no prior criminal record or convictions in any state.

Blake raised his hand to greet Loren Keating, a Kenosha County judicial court commissioner, when addressed, saying “Yes sir,” when asked if he could hear clearly and whether he understood the terms of his $10,000 signature bond.

“The state recognizes that these are serious charges but also that the defendant has serious injuries and he’s recovering at the hospital,” said Zeke Wiedenfeld, a prosecutor.

The court set trial to begin on Nov. 9 with jury selection. The complaint does not identify the ex-girlfriend by name.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Howard Goller