SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Salt Lake County Attorney Ted Cannon says the sexual harassment charges against him are ''trumped up,'' but he has agreed to take a paid leave of absence today through the end of his term.

It's a bad, unfair way to end 13 years as a public prosecutor, said Cannon, who leaves office at the end of the year. He had been asked to take the leave last week by the county commission after a special panel concluded he had engaged in sexual harassment.

The county grand jury Thursday indicted Cannon on one count each of forcible sexual abuse and sexual harassment of two female employees. He also was charged with defamation against a television investigative reporter and misuse of public moneys in allegedly having a public employee work on his 1982 re-election campaign.

The grand jury charged two investigators in Cannon's office, Donald Claude Harman and Ralph Tolman, with criminal conspiracy in a 1983 fire investigation.

Cannon denounced the grand jury's inquiry and said, ''No one can stand up to a 15-cent investigation.

''If you want to take basically harmless, mild, maybe inappropriate but not unlawful acts and examine them for the darkest kinds of intent and read things into them that were never there, you can make charges against anyone,'' he said.

Cannon said in an interview with KSL-TV that the charges against him were ''trumped up matters. I'm not guilty of anything criminal.''

Cannon has claimed he is the victim of a smear campaign instigated by Michael Christensen, a lawyer in Cannon's office who is the Republican nominee for county attorney. Cannon supported another of his subordinates, Roger Livingston, for the nomination in the GOP primary.

Cannon notified the county commission in a letter Thursday that he would accept the leave of absence, in which he will continue to receive his salary of $4,690 a month.

Larry R. Keller, one of two special prosecutors appointed to work with the grand jury, defended the grand jury's investigation as fair and thorough, with 72 witnesses questioned.

''There has been no vendetta. There has been every effort to give the accused an opportunity to explain their circumstances,'' Keller said.