Embattled Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, 47, has been charged with two counts fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for his involvement with a teenaged girl.
WDIO-TV in Duluth reports the decision to charge Scannell was made on October 22 by a St. Louis County grand jury. Scannell made his first court appearance on Thursday. He has not entered a plea.
The Duluth News Tribune reported that Scannell is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 12 and was released on his own recognizance. Scannell asked that all judges in the Sixth Judicial District recuse themselves because they have worked with him.
Scannell was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl 10 months ago. The Cook County Sheriff asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate Scannell last December. After a BCA investigation, former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger was appointed as a special prosecutor in March to review the case.
Scannell’s relationship with the Grand Marais girl came to light when her parents filed a restraining order against him last December. It said Scannell gave the girl guitar lessons and coached her in a summer tennis program. The petition states that the girl’s mother said Scannell told her he loved her daughter and that his relationship with her had become physical with “kissing and touching, but nothing illegal.” At the time, the girl was 16.
WDIO reported that two weeks ago, Scannell went on medical leave. The station said that Scannell keeps a blog where he said he's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2011, Scannell was shot at the Cook County Courthouse by a man he prosecuted for criminal sexual conduct with a teenage girl. Scannell recovered from the four gunshot wounds.
Scannell has refused to resign during the investigation, leading to weekly protests at the courthouse and a petition to remove him from office. Several Facebook groups and websites call for his ouster.
Jason Zimmer, one of several Cook County residents who have organized efforts calling for Scannell’s departure, told the newspaper that he has signatures lined up for a petition should Scannell be charged and refuse to resign.
“We need 640 signatures and we have well over that,” Zimmer said. “A lot of concerned citizens are looking for answers.”