Suspect is held in Mercer County Correction Center on bail of $130,000
By Thomas Albano
A Hamilton resident has been arrested in connection with two sex offenses in West Village and a trespassing incident in a sorority house in September.
Jon Cannon, 24, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 2 and charged with two counts of third-degree burglary, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact and one count of fourth-degree defiant trespassing. He was being held at Mercer County Correction Center in Hopewell Township on $130,000 bail.
The arrest was announced to the Rider community in an emailed statement from Dean of Students Anthony Campbell that same afternoon. Cannon was not identified by name in the announcement.
“On behalf of the entire Rider University community, we wish to convey our appreciation and gratitude to all the members of law enforcement, especially the Lawrence Township Police Department (LTPD), who worked closely with us to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion,” the statement said. “The safety and well-being of our campus communities are of the utmost importance to us, and a responsibility we take very seriously.”
Cannon was arraigned on Oct. 6 in Lawrence Township Municipal Court in front of Judge Kevin P. Nerwinski. He faces a potential five-year jail sentence and a $15,000 fine for the two burglary charges and a potential 18-month jail sentence and $10,000 fine for the trespassing and sexual contact charges, said Raymond Staub, the public defense attorney representing Cannon in the arraignment.
Cannon must pay the bail in full for a release.
“He can post a bond, but he can’t post 10 percent,” said Staub. “That’s high for third-and-fourth degree crimes.” Cannon’s next court date is scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Mercer County Superior Court for a bail hearing.
Cannon’s charges of criminal sexual contact and harassment (offensive touching) come in connection with incidents in the early morning hours of Sept. 11 and Sept. 27.
At 3:15 a.m. on Sept. 11, Cannon allegedly entered an unlocked apartment in West Village B and touched the shoulder of a woman sleeping in the common area. The victim, who was a visitor, woke up and screamed, causing Cannon to flee from the building. Similarly, at 4:50 a.m. on Sept. 27, Cannon allegedly entered another unlocked room in West Village B and touched another sleeping woman on her breast. She also awoke with a scream and caused Cannon to retreat.
Cannon was charged with offensive touching for the Sept. 11 incident, criminal sexual contact for the Sept. 27 occurrence, and burglary for both.
The university claimed that the West Village incidents were sexual assaults based on the Clery Act’s definitions and reporting guidelines.
While police have not said how they think Cannon might have entered the building, it is believed he may have snuck in behind a student during the interval in which handicapped-accessible doors in West Village remained open. At an SGA Senate meeting held on Sept. 29, it was announced that Rider has taken the initiative in altering these doors. The doors have also been changed so they only stay open for the minimum amount of time required by law.
Cannon also has a chance to be placed in a pre-trial intervention program, but Staub is unsure if Cannon will be guaranteed a spot.
“He’s eligible for the pre-trial intervention program if he qualifies and the state has to agree” Staub said. “For sexual contact crimes, the state will not always agree.”
Cannon was also charged with trespassing in an incident at the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority house on Sept. 26. At approximately 4 a.m., Cannon was seen allegedly walking through the house. A female student called male friends, who scared Cannon away. This incident was not reported to the university until about 12 hours later.
Cannon had an earlier arrest on the Lawrenceville campus in March 2014, according to LTPD records. He was charged with trespassing after he was found in the vicinity of West Village.
Off campus, on July 31, 2015 at approximately 2 a.m., Cannon was arrested and charged with burglary and attempted auto theft after being found in a car on West McGailliard Avenue near Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road. According to Hamilton police, Cannon tried to duck and hide when officers arrived on scene. In August, he was arrested by Hamilton police again for break-ins in the Whitehorse area of Hamilton. He was held on $50,000 bail.
An unrelated claim of sexual assault came on Sept. 18 at Poyda Hall, but that case was determined to be unfounded, according to Lt. Joseph Amodio of the LTPD. No Rider Alert message was issued for this incident or for the incident of the sorority trespassing.
According to Public Safety Director Vickie Weaver, no Rider Alert was sent out for the Poyda incident because the suspect was already in the control of the police. No message was sent out for the sorority break-in because, according to Campbell, by the time the university was made aware of the incident, there was no continuing threat to the community.
While Amodio said there is still some investigating left to be done, Campbell hopes Cannon’s arrest can help Rider students sleep easier.
“This has been a time of collaboration — a true team effor between our students, staff, faculty and others to address everyone’s questions and concerns surrounding these incidents,” Campbell said. “We are thankful for this cooperation and very glad this suspect has been apprehended.”