GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (WCCO) — The impassioned pleas to get a county attorney out of office have been going on for six months now.
Some people living in Grand Marais started weekly protests outside the courthouse after County Attorney Tim Scannell admitted to getting too close to a teenager.
The teenagers’ parents have a restraining order against Scannell, and a criminal investigation into the relationship continues as Scannell stays in office.
“The order of protection, the restraining order, was signed 197 days ago,” said protester Tamarie Oberg. “The protest started two days after that was signed.”
For six months, the same scene — and the same scathing signs — have been on display outside the Cook County Courthouse.
“For someone in his position, he should know that that’s grossly inappropriate,” said protester Gary Nesgoda.
This past fall, Scannell admitted to kissing and touching a 17-year-old girl who was a family friend. He blamed the relationship on emotional problems he’d been having since he was shot at work the year before by a man he prosecuted for sexual misconduct with a different teenage girl.
In April, Scannell threatened to sue the county for that shooting.
“He’s gonna try to get as much money to leave on…out of this county,” Oberg said.
Scannell’s attorney says his client will not comment on the story, that Scannell didn’t do anything illegal with the girl, and that he plans to still serve as the county attorney.
A special prosecutor is still deciding if he Scannell will face criminal charges — a decision many believe should have been made a long time ago.
“It’s not the same rules as it is for him or for anyone else,” Nesgoda said.
In the meantime, the protesters will continue to protest with the hope the day will come soon that the county’s highest paid employee will be prosecuted
“But mainly I want him to leave,” Oberg said. “Just leave.”
The special prosecutor investigating Scannell — former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger — says the investigation is continuing and that they are waiting on investigation results to be received.
He wouldn’t say how long that could take.
Scannell’s term as county attorney ends in 2014. He hasn’t publicly said if he will run again.