Cook County prosecutor shot by sex offender now faces sex charges
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (KMSP) -
Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, who was shot in 2011 by a convicted sex offender he had prosecuted, has now been charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct over an alleged relationship with a teenage girl.
The charges against the county's top prosecutor were made public after a grand jury returned an indictment last week. Scannell, 47, made his initial court appearance Thursday.
The relationship between Scannell and the teenager was revealed late last year when the girl's family filed a restraining order, calling his behavior "predatory." The girl's parents said Scannell -- a longtime family friend -- told them he loved their daughter and that their relationship had turned physical, including "kissing and touching, but nothing illegal."
After the restraining order was issued, Scannell's wife sent a letter to friends and family, saying her husband's relationship with the then-15-year-old girl was the result of emotional trauma from a courthouse shooting of which he was a victim.
Scannell's attorney, Richard Swanson, asked that the charges be dismissed and all judges in the district be excused from the case. He told the Associated Press this is a matter that should have been handled privately, but will now be decided in the public eye.
"All of the alleged events in this case occurred while he was suffering in the darkest hours of his severe depression," Swanson said.
The charges against Scannell are the result of a nearly seven-month investigation by former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger, who was appointed to review the case.
The age of consent in Minnesota is 16, but several factors could make the relationship illegal:
- The girl was under 18 - Scannell is more than four years older than the girl - Scannell was in a position of authority.