Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Upper Dublin school bus aide accused of inappropri­ate contact with elementary students

Kenneth Cannon, 71, of Willow Grove, charged with indecent assault, corruption of minors

- By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@pottsmerc.com

NORRISTOWN » A 71-year-old school bus aide with the Upper Dublin School District is accused of having inappropri­ate contact with several elementary school students as they sat on his lap on the bus, according to court documents.

Kenneth Cannon, of the 3600 block of Welsh Road in the Willow Grove section of Upper Dublin Township, was arraigned on Wednesday before District Court Judge Albert J. Augustine on charges of institutio­nal sexual assault, indecent assault of a person less than 13, corruption of minors, attempted corruption of minors and endangerin­g the welfare of children in connection with alleged incidents that occurred between February and May 2022.

Augustine set bail at 10% of $5,000 and it was unclear if Cannon was able to post that bail.

Cannon faces an Aug. 12 preliminar­y hearing on the charges before District Court Judge Patricia A. Zaffarano, according to court records.

An investigat­ion began on May 27 when Upper Dublin police were notified of allegation­s that Cannon was allowing multiple students between the ages of 6 and 12 sit on his lap during bus rides to and from school, according to the criminal complaint filed by Upper Dublin Detective Michael T. Scarpato.

An 8-year-old girl told investigat­ors that Cannon, an aide on a bus that took students to Thomas Fitzwater Elementary School and who sat in a front seat behind the bus driver, “would invite some of the girls on the bus ages 6-12 years old to sit on his lap during the bus rides to and from school,” according to the criminal complaint.

The girl recalled an incident when Cannon invited her to sit on his lap during which time he rubbed her shoulders and her thighs, according to court papers.

The victim described Cannon’s hands as “unwanted” and “terrible” and she said that he touched her genital area over top of her clothing while breathing heavily, according to the arrest affidavit. The girl described Cannon’s actions as “ticklish and uncomforta­ble.”

“The victim claimed she got up and ran to the rear of the bus and the bus aide (Cannon) invited her back to his lap,” Scarpato alleged.

The victim told investigat­ors that Cannon told her “do not tell anyone I did this,” according to court documents.

Detectives conducted additional interviews with four other children, ages 6, 7, 8 and 12 who all advised they sat on bus aide Cannon’s lap on several occasions during bus trips to both Thomas Fitzwater Elementary and Jarrettown Elementary schools located in Upper Dublin, according to the arrest affidavit.

A 12-year-old boy told detectives he observed Cannon both “squeeze and pat” a 7-year-old girl on her buttocks when she sat on Cannon’s lap during the bus rides, court documents indicate. The 7-year-old girl told detectives Cannon also hugged her often and she described the hugs as feeling like a “big squeeze,” detectives alleged.

Scarpato alleged some of the students referred to the bus aide as “Cannonball.”

School officials posted a statement “regarding employee arrest” on the district’s website on July 27.

In the statement officials said the district learned of allegation­s made against Cannon on May 26.

“On that date, he and the bus driver were placed on administra­tive leave pending the outcome of a police investigat­ion. Due to their leaves, these employees had no further contact with our students,” the statement read.

Officials said that since May, the district has been cooperatin­g with local authoritie­s regarding the police investigat­ion.

“Today we were informed by the Upper Dublin Police Department that Kenneth Cannon was arrested and charged with serious offenses, including inappropri­ate contact with two students and corruption of minors stemming from alleged incidents occurring between February and May 2022,” the statement continued. “This remains a personnel and police matter; therefore, we are unable to make any additional comments at this time.”

“The safety of our students is always our top priority. The District will not tolerate conduct that adversely affects our ability to provide students with safe, secure environmen­ts. The District will continue to cooperate fully with authoritie­s as this situation develops,” officials added.

The matter remains an active investigat­ion. Those who believe they have any informatio­n about the matter should contact the Upper Dublin Police Department at 215-646-2100 or dial 911, the district’s statement concluded.

 ?? ?? Kenneth Cannon
Kenneth Cannon

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