JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A retired high school teacher from Pettis County pleaded guilty in federal court today to arranging to meet a woman and her 14-year-old daughter (actually an undercover law enforcement officer) for illicit sexual activity.
According to a federal affidavit the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department sent an undercover detective to meet Paul Robert Cannon, 71, in Columbia after the retired teacher exchanged numerous e-mails with what he believed to be a single mother with a 14-year-old daughter.
A recent press release by Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, states “Cannon posted an advertisement on Craigslist on Jan. 18, 2016, entitled “Grandpa looking for a couple with kids.” The posting read, “Grandpa looking for a couple that would like to include their kids in sexual fun. White man, very discreet, very safe, retired teacher, and well endowed. Age and race are not an issue.”
Over the course of six days, it is alleged Cannon exchanged numerous e-mails and texts in which he described various sex acts he intended to perform with the minor daughter. According to Dickinson “He also allegedly offered to have sex with both the mother and minor daughter together and said he was looking for a continuing relationship.”
Cannon was arrested after agreeing to meet an undercover detective at a restaurant in Columbia, on January 29. Cannon offered to buy lunch for the mother and daughter before going to their residence for a sexual rendezvous, the teacher was arrested by law enforcement officers after being redirected to a different restaurant.
Under federal statutes, Cannon is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in prison without parole.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.