GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (WCCO) — Cook County’s top prosecutor will be prosecuted himself.
Tim Scannell is charged with getting too close to a teenage girl, and faces two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Scannell went on medical leave from his job two weeks ago. A man the county once counted on to uphold the law, is now charged with breaking it. He could face several years in prison.
WCCO was in Grand Marais to hear the charges against the man who once made headlines for a courtroom shooting that involved another man convicted of the very same crime.
On the steps of the courthouse that’s been at the center of controversy for nearly two years, dozens of people showed up to hear the decision they’ve waited 10 months for.
Special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger reviewed the case for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
“For me to describe what we’ve been doing for 10 months would require me to go into the facts and evidence in this case and I will not do that,” Heffelfinger said.
Nine days ago a grand jury decided the evidence was there for Scannell to face charges.
“It alleges criminal acts on two separate days in the month of August 2012,” Heffelfinger said.
A restraining order in December 2012 by the parents of a then 17- year-old girl said Scannell, a family friend and coach, told their daughter he was in love with her. He admitted to touching and kissing the girl but insisted he didn’t do anything illegal.
The year before that restraining order, a man who had just been found guilty in a sexual contact case involving a 15-year-old girl shot Scannell three times in the courthouse.
The courthouse property also became a place to protest. Twice a week for four seasons, people brought their signs pushing Scannell to resign.
Tamarie Oberg is one of the protestors.
“I had to do something,” she said. “I couldn’t stand idle so I kept coming back.”
On Thursday, they were back to hear what they see as the first step to seeing Scannell go.
Gary Nesgoda, Jr. is another protestor.
“There was a long time we thought nothing would come of this,” he said.
Scannell was released without bail from custody.
“I think now begins the healing process because there’s something — there’s something,” Oberg said.
At a closed hearing on Thursday morning, Scannelll’s attorney asked a judge to dismiss the indictment and for judges outside the area to hear the case moving forward. That decision will be made in two weeks.
Right now, it’s unclear if Scannell will remain as county attorney. The Cook County Board of Commissioners said it doesn’t have the power to remove him.
Tim Scannell’s attorney, Richard Swanson, said they’re disappointed that after all this time charges were filed.
In a statement said “We are very sorry and disappointed that the special prosecutor appointed in this case has chosen now — after all of this time, more than one year after the initial allegations arose — to bring a criminal indictment against Tim, who still works every day to deal with the PTSD, anxiety, and depression caused the shooting.”