Around Cook County
Each week the WTIP news department puts together a roundup of the weeks top news stories. A proposed mine bridge poses challenges for MnDOT, the state’s wolf season has been set as well as the deer season – bucks only --…all this and more in this week’s news.
After three full days of testimony, a jury of nine men and three women has returned a verdict of guilty in the sexual misconduct trial of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell. Scannell was charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
In order for a conviction, the jury had to find that Scannell was in a position of authority over the girl during the time the acts occurred. The girl’s parents said Scannell had been a longtime family friend, advising her on college choices, acting as tennis and soccer coach, as well as academic advisor and job counselor.
Judge Shaun Floerke set sentencing for September 26 following a pre-sentence investigation.
Sentencing guidelines for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct call for a stayed sentence of 18 to 24 months for an offender without a criminal history.
Not only are renovations under way on the Bally Blacksmith Shop in Grand Marais, but the renovations and history are being documented. WTIP volunteer Randy Eastlund spoke with Leah Thomas and Michael McHugh of the Cook County Historical Society.
The Cook County Historical Society hosts the Bally Blacksmith Tent most Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Everyone is welcome to learn about the renovation of the old blacksmith shop, identify mystery artifacts, share stories and enjoy coffee and cider. The tent is behind the Bally Blacksmith Shop on the corner of Broadway and 1st St. More information from the Historical Society at 387-2883.
The case of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell who is accused of sexual misconduct with a teenage girl has gone to the jury.
WTIP’s Martha Marnocha reports the jury deliberated for over three hours before going home about 8 p.m. last night. The jury is not sequestered and will likely reconvene at 8:30 this morning.
Scannell is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Because the age of consent in Minnesota is typically 16, the jury was asked to decide whether Scannell was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of the acts.
Prosecuting attorney Tom Heffelfinger argued Scannell abused a position of authority when he kissed and allegedly touched the girl during drives they took in 2012. He questioned Scannell for nearly four hours.
The Duluth News Tribune reports in closing, Heffelfinger told jurors that either Scannell or the girl lied on the witness stand. He asked them to consider the credibility of each and consider who would benefit from lying. He concluded it would be Scannell.
Defense attorney Joe Tamburino said Scannell was never directly given — or charged with — any parental responsibilities over the girl, making the acts distasteful and immoral but not illegal.
He argued that state statute defines an authority figure as a person “charged with any rights, duties and responsibilities of a parent.” He said Scannell was not “charged” with the care of the girl at the time of the acts, and any positions of authority he may have held ended before the acts.
Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, accused of sexual misconduct testified in his own defense yesterday and will be cross examined today.
Scannell is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Scannell said Wednesday in St. Louis County Court that he developed feelings for the girl in 2012. He admitted he kissed the girl multiple times but didn't intentionally touch her in a sexual way. He also said he thought she was too young.
According to WTIP’s Martha Marnocha, defense attorney Joseph Tamburino began his questioning of Scannell with a long recap of events leading up to the girl's family seeking a restraining order against Scannell to stop the relationship.
Tamburino included details of the courthouse shooting of Scannell in December of 2011 by Daniel Schlienz, his hospitalization, rocky recovery, subsequent PTSD, breakdown and treatment in an Arizona rehabilitation facility.
Prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger interrupted Tamburino with objections for “excessive recollecting.” He also objected several times to Scannell’s “rambling” testimony. From the beginning Scannell alternately cried and appeared aggressive during testimony, he was animated and frequently went off topic.
Scannell's attorney says his client acted inappropriately but not criminally. Today Heffelfinger will cross-examine Scannell and the case could go to the jury this afternoon.