By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
City Commissioner Chuck Cannon says he’s shaking the dust of Trenton, quitting the commission and setting out to make a fresh start elsewhere – but before he goes he wants to clear his name.
“People look at that stuff on the Internet and it makes me look like some kind of sexual predator or something, when it’s not true,” said Cannon.
Cannon was arrested and spent the night in jail in August 2011 after fisticuffs with a friend at his Trenton home. Subsequently, a restraining order from Cannon’s wife, Ericka, after she said he had hit her, also made local headlines, and a few months later the Georgia Bureau Investigation filed sexual battery charges against Cannon in connection with a related incident concerning his friend’s wife.
That made headlines, too, but Cannon called the Sentinel Monday to point out he’d gotten less ink in April when a grand jury mitigated those charges. “The charges were dropped in court when the facts came out about it, but I still suffer in the rumor mill about the lies,” said Cannon.
In fact, public records show that following that grand jury session, Cannon pled guilty to the lesser charge of simple battery and obstruction of officers in connection with the fight. In August 2012, he was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, fined $1,050 and warned to have no further contact with either his friend or the friend’s wife.
Meanwhile, the Cannons’ divorce was finalized late last year, and Cannon says the relocation associated with that breakup of his marriage is what triggered his decision to quit the Trenton City Commission. “I’m resigning because I’m moving,” he said. “It’s nothing to do with this other stuff.”
But “this other stuff” is what’s haunting Cannon as he tries to find work and people Google his name and see the news articles. Cannon says that’s not fair. “I’m not saying I’m innocent of any wrongdoing,” he said. “I’m saying that that was a false sexual battery charge against me, that was thrown out by the grand jury. I didn’t appreciate it but I’ve kept my mouth shut to avoid additional embarrassment for my family.”
Cannon described what really happened between his friend, himself and their wives as more messy than criminal, with his friend accused of an affair with Cannon’s wife. “Whether it’s a fact that happened or not I don’t know, but I didn’t go over there and attack her [the friend’s wife] in retaliation, and the grand jury saw through all those lies and they threw it out,” said Cannon.
As to that sexual battery charge in regard to the friend’s wife, said Cannon: “She thought she’d been caught by her stepson so she made these accusations. That’s more or less what happened.”
Cannon says he’s moving out of state and has a place to stay already lined up.
Trenton Mayor Anthony Emanuel on Tuesday confirmed that Cannon, who was serving his second term as Trenton’s parks, recreation and animal control commissioner, had tendered his resignation. Emanuel said Cannon would have been up for reelection this November in any case.
Emanuel said the city charter gives the commission the option of appointing a replacement to serve out Cannon’s term. “Right now we’re in the process of looking at who that will be,” he said.
The mayor said that over the years more than one individual has asked about the position but that whether they were still interested remained to be seen. If so, he said, the unexpected opening will give a candidate an opportunity to try the position out before running for office later this year.
The city commission is in any case due to meet Monday for its regular January session, and Emanuel said the matter of a replacement will be discussed then. “In the meantime, we’ll go with the three commissioners that we have,” he said.
The mayor declined to comment on the dramatic nature of Cannon’s exit from city life.
The Trenton City Commission’s work session begins at 6 p.m. on Monday, with the business portion follows immediately thereafter.