Former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger has been appointed as special prosecutor in a case to determine if criminal charges are warranted against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
Heffelfinger, who twice headed the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota, will review the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation of Scannell (pictured) — who faces allegations of an inappropriate romantic relationship with a 17-year-old girl, the paper says.
Now a private attorney in Minneapolis, Heffelfinger told the News Tribune by phone Friday that he is “very new to the case” and was “not in a position to talk about it,” and declined further comment.
Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk asked the BCA in December to investigate Scannell, who has previously prosecuted people accused of committing sex crimes with minors.
Scannell made headlines in December 2011 after being shot moments after a guilty verdict was read against a man he successfully prosecuted for criminal sexual misconduct with a minor under 16.
A year later, a restraining order had been filed against Scannell by the parents of the teen he was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with.
Scannell apologized afterward, saying in a statement that the restraining order was “a personal matter” that did not involve his job as county attorney.
Scannell has since been the target of protests by citizens seeking his resignation.