BELTON — A former Killeen kindergarten teacher was found guilty and sentenced Friday morning on four first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and three second-degree counts of indecency with a child by contact.
Salado resident Thomas Lloyd Cannon, 42, was sentenced to 40 years in prison each on the four aggravated sexual assault charges and 20 years in prison each for the three indecency with child, Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza told the Telegram Friday.
Cannon’s sentences will run concurrently — all at the same time, according to a plea bargain reached by the District Attorney’s office and Cannon’s defense attorneys.
Cannon was a kindergarten teacher at Iduma Elementary School, a Killeen Independent School District campus.
“The District Attorney’s Office worked closely with the families of the victims in this case and they are happy with the outcome,” Garza told the Telegram. “It was a priority for this office that the community is kept safe and the victims in this case will not be exposed to possible future trauma as a result of the court process.”
Bell County 264th District Court Judge Paul LePak made sure Cannon knew the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty and waiving his right to separate jury trials and to a later appeal. Cannon indicated he understood all of his rights and still chose to accept the plea bargain instead of going to trial.
LePak said that Cannon signed confessions in each case. Cannon signed a waiver that will negate his right to appeal.
In court, LePak silently read the victims’ impact statements handed to him by Newell, who said the families were made aware of the plea agreements and most of the family members were in the courtroom. LePak did not read aloud any of the statements.
Cannon pleaded guilty to each charge. LePak accepted his pleas and pronounced him guilty on each count.
An investigation began May 10, 2017, after a juvenile victim reported inappropriate physical contact.
Cannon was removed from a classroom, sent home and barred from returning during the investigation, KISD Superintendent John Craft previously said in a news release.
Parents of students within the classroom were personally called by KISD, and an additional automated call notified all parents at the school of the incident, Craft said in a May 2017 email to FME News Service.
“The safety of our students is always our highest priority at Iduma Elementary and across KISD and we take their safety very seriously,” the release said. “We strongly condemn the alleged misconduct and will never allow any teacher or other KISD employee to behave inappropriately with students. If the allegations of misconduct in this case are true, we will support the strongest possible action against the teacher.”
Garza did not say when Cannon would be eligible for parole.
Twenty years is the maximum sentence possible for which Cannon could be sentenced for indecency with a child by contact, Garza pointed out.
One indictment covered three counts involving a girl younger than 14 years of age who Cannon sexually assaulted on May 1, 2017. The affidavit, filed by the Killeen Police Department, said a mother picked up her daughter from school, and her daughter said her kindergarten teacher did “nasty things to me and my friend.”
Garza said he thanked the Killeen Police Department, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas, Baylor Scott and White forensic nurse examiners and the Texas Department of Public Safety laboratory “for their hard work and commitment to the investigation that led to a successful outcome.”