MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota county attorney sat on the other side of the courtroom Tuesday as his trial for allegedly getting too close to a teenage girl got underway.
Tim Scannell faces two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for kissing and touching a 17-year-old girl.
He blames the relationship on mental trauma he suffered after he was shot three times while on the job in a St. Louis County courtroom.
The alleged incidents happened nearly two years ago, but prosecutor say Scannell’s infatuation with the girl started years before that.
More than 100 miles from the Cook County courtroom where he served as top prosecutor, a jury in St. Louis County started to hear about the relationship between Scannell and a girl described as a close family friend, who Scannell’s own son once took to prom.
Prosecutors say as she grew up, Scannell developed a fascination with the teen. At one point, prosecutors say he sent her a Facebook message where he told her that he wished he were 30-years younger.
On the stand, Scannell’s own sister testified that she was the first to raise a red flag. She says she overheard an inappropriate conversation between the two after Scannell had accidently called her on his cell phone.
The girl took the stand to say to the relationship quickly progressed two summers ago. They met several times a week on an isolated road, where they sat in the backseat of Scannell’s minivan and talked, kissed and touched.
She testified that Scannell said “he wouldn’t get in trouble as long as there was no penetration.”
A restraining order in December 2012 by the girl’s parents said Scannell, a family friend and coach, told their daughter he was in love with her.
The defense maintains nothing illegal never happened. In the past, Scannell blamed his actions on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that he said he suffered since being shot in Dec. 2011 in his courthouse after prosecuting a man for sexually assaulting minor girls.
Ultimately, the jury will have to decide if Scannell was in a position of power over the girl at the time of their relationship — a decision that could possibly send him to prison for several years.
The case is expected to last the rest of week in Duluth. Scannell is still being paid by Cook County, and has been on medical leave for ten months.