A former Jacksonville police officer will spend 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting two young girls and then admitting to doing the same things to other children over most of his law enforcement career. Richard Cannon was a Jacksonville police officer for 25 years before his arrest on 13 Duval County sex charges in 2011, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He pleaded guilty to two of the counts last month and the state dropped the rest, part of a plea deal that kept the victims from having to testify in court, the newspaper reported.
Cannon pleaded guilty to Jacksonville attempted sexual battery on a girl younger than 12 and sexual battery on a girl under the age of 18. He faced 30 years in prison on each of the two charges. Cannon, 48, must also serve 15 years of sexual offender probation after he is released from prison. Jacksonville police became aware of Cannon’s criminal behavior once one of the victims told a school official, who contacted the state Department of Children and Families. The state then brought the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office into the investigation. Cannon apologized to many people during the sentencing, including the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Police have said very little publicly about Cannon, likely trying to distance themselves from the man as much as possible – as well they should. Very few circumstances can erode the public’s trust in police more than an officer being sent to prison. And the fact that no one knew anything – or no one said anything – about a pedophile in the ranks for 25 years doesn’t look good in the eyes of the public.
Similar questions were raised in the wake of the rape cases against former Penn State University defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. While in Cannon’s case there is no evidence that officials knew about the Duval County sex crimes and did little to report them – as was the case with Sandusky – many will question how police didn’t know. Officers often work very closely with a partner, someone they sometimes spend more time with than their spouse, and detectives get to know each other very well. No employer, including a police department, can be expected to know everything every employee does when they are off the clock. But it doesn’t change the fact that people look at police officers in a different light than other professions and expect cops to follow the law. And when they don’t, the credibility of the department suffers.
If you or a loved one needs a Sex Crime Defense Attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Experienced Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.