A former Jacksonville police officer will not lose his city pension, despite his conviction for molesting young girls. Richard Cannon was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual battery on a victim younger than 18 in Jacksonville and attempted sexual battery on a girl younger than 12, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. As part of Cannon’s plea agreement, the state dropped 11 other Duval County molestation and sexual battery charges against him.
The case is an interesting example of the law regarding public employees and the extension of the employer’s power once a person is convicted of a crime – and the public’s general tendency to have absolutely zero tolerance for people who commit sex crimes against children. According to state law, if a public employee is convicted of a felony or pleads guilty to a felony that is directly related to the person’s public position or if the person used the power of their position to commit the crime, the employee’s retirement can be revoked. They key is the relation to the public position. In Cannon’s case, there is no evidence that he used his position as an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to gain access to his victims or to influence them in any way, the newspaper reported.
When these Jacksonville Sex Crimes allegations against Cannon surfaced in 2011, even though they occurred years ago, the veteran officer retired. The pension law is designed more for public corruption cases or, as Cannon’s sex crime defense attorney said in the newspaper report, cases where a teacher is molesting students and has a direct influence over the children involved. A notable example is when former Florida Department of Correction Secretary ended up pleading guilty to taking kickbacks from a vendor and the state moved to revoke his pension. His actions were clearly related to the power he had as the head of the prison system. In Cannon’s case, the local pension board could not find similar ties and, despite many of the board members publicly saying they wanted to revoke Cannon’s pension, they concluded they had no legal reason to do so.
Message boards and comment sections on the Jacksonville news websites lit up with outrage last week when this news of Cannon keeping his estimated $42,000 annual pension surfaced. The anger was directly tied to the types of crimes Cannon was convicted of committing. But, just because someone is convicted a sex crime does not mean they lose every constitutional and personal right that everyone else has.
If you or a loved one needs a sex crimes attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.