()   A former Jacksonville police officer pleaded guilty Thursday on two counts of sexual battery and faces up to 30 years in prison. Richard Cannon, a 25-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was arrested one year ago and charged with six counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and one count of capital sexual battery on a minor.  Additional charges were added in September. Under a plea agreement, the 49-year-old pleaded guilty to only two of 13 counts: attempted sexual battery, which carries a minimum 20-year sentence, and custodial sexual battery, which carries a 30-year sentence with the possibility of parole. Evidence showed that from January 2008 through August 2011, Cannon abused two girls, prosecutors said. One girl was younger than 12 and the other was younger than 18. Prosecutors said none of the victims nor their families wanted to attend the hearing because they did not want to relive the horrible acts. They said the plea deal helped keep the case from going to trial and spared the victims from having to testify. “These cases involve child victims,” Assistant State Attorney Theresa Simak said. “They’ve already been through enough. This allows us to ensure that justice is done for the community so the community is still protected from this person, but those children don’t have to come in and face that. And we do that a lot in these kind of cases.” “I’ve known this individual throughout his career with the Sheriff’s Office and none of us had a inkling of an idea or thought that this sort of thing was going on,” said Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson. “This could have been anybody, but it’s not. This time it’s a former police officer, and you know, officers are held to a higher standard on a lot of things, many things, particularly the law.” Sentencing was set for Sept. 17. Cannon must also register as a sex offender. “By him going to prison, he’s used to investigating persons and arresting persons, now he’s on the other side of that,” Jefferson said. “He’s going to be the one that has to walk through those bars and hear that door close finally for the last time until he’s released. It’s going to be a different life for him.”



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