La PORTE – A northern Indiana woman was sentenced to 39 years in prison on Monday for forcing a 12-year-old girl to have sex with a man for money several times in La Porte County.
Kellie Jo Cannon, 38, of Nappanee was arrested in May 2018, and charged with two felony counts of promotion of human trafficking of a minor; and single felony counts of child molesting, and neglect of a dependent.
On Dec. 2, the day her jury trial was scheduled to begin in La Porte County Circuit Court, Cannon pleaded guilty to child molesting and one count of promoting human trafficking of a minor, according to court records. As part of a plea agreement, the other charges were dropped.
Cannon faced a maximum of 58 years, but her attorneys argued for no more than 20.
On Monday, Judge Thomas Alevizos, citing Cannon's position of trust over the victim, who was a relative, sentenced her to 30 years on the molesting charge and nine years on the trafficking charge, and ordered the sentences be served consecutively, according to court records.
During court proceedings, Cannon claimed she only took the girl to see the man for sex because he had threatened her.
The man who was originally charged in the case, 36-year-old Rusty D. Reuille of Michigan City, fatally shot himself as La Porte County Police attempted to arrest him just days after Cannon's arrest, authorities said at the time.
A warrant had been issued for his arrests charging six felony counts related to sexual encounters with the girl, and two counts of possession of child pornography.
Court documents alleged that Cannon brought the girl to Reuille for $100 to have sex with her once a month, and there were at least four such encounters.
On May 10, 2018, members of the La Porte County Sheriff's deputies and Fugitive Apprehension Street Team officers came to Reuille's residence in the Colonial Trailer Park Community in the 6000 North block of CR-400W.
“Upon attempting to make contact with Reuille, a single gunshot was heard coming from a direction of the residence,” the sheriff's office said in a statement at the time. Police found Reuille dead inside the trailer of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Text messages, photos and videos discovered on Reuille’s cellphone implicated both Reuille and Cannon, according to court documents unsealed after Reuille’s death.
Investigators said the alleged crimes occurred between Dec. 1, 2017, and March 1, 2018 — one at a home on Wozniak Road and another near the interchange at I-94 and U.S. 421.
Cannon helped restrain the girl during one sexual encounter with Reuille, according to court testimony. In both cases, the girl was forced against her will to participate, investigators said.
She also complied with Reuille's request to send photographs of naked 8- and 2-year-old children, court documents allege.
Cannon remains in the La Porte County Jail, where she has been held on a $100,000 cash-only bond since her arrest in May 2018.