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Scannell charged with two felony counts

Crowd gathered at Cook County Courthouse to hear Special Prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger. Photo by Carah Thomas
Crowd gathered at Cook County Courthouse to hear Special Prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger. Photo by Carah Thomas

HeffelfingerNewsConference_103113.mp38.52 MB

Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell has been charged with two counts of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges were announced today in Grand Marais by Special Cook County Prosecutor Thomas B. Heffelfinger. WTIPs Jay Andersen has this report.

Here is a synopsis of the story:

Special Cook County Prosecutor Thomas B. Heffelfinger held a news conference in Grand Marais this morning on the steps of the county courthouse. He announced that charges have been brought against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell.
The counts are both criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree.

Fourth degree criminal sexual conduct is typically brought when a young victim was vulnerable, unable to or did not consent to the alleged sexual contact. The charges involve aggravated contact, however generally not physical harm. Minnesota statutes break criminal sexual conduct into five categories, with first degree the most severe and fifth degree the least.

Heffelfinger explained that two counts were brought and that Scannell had already made his first court appearance.
Two counts were charged because of two alleged contacts with the juvenile on separate occasions. Scannell made his first court appearance this morning.

After the morning court appearance, Scannell was released without bail, on his own recognizance with several conditions. His next court appearance is scheduled for the morning of November 12 in Grand Marais, at which time a plea may be entered.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conducted the investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. Appearing with Heffelfinger this morning was Sue Burgraff, special agent in charge of the Bemidji office responsible for supervision of the Duluth agents who conducted the investigation.

When asked what the indictment meant for Scannell’s position in the county, Heffelfinger said that was out of his authority.
Heffelfinger added that for the time being, or until a change of venue is sought and granted, further hearings will be held in Cook County and he will act as prosecutor. He twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota and was appointed as special prosecutor after six Minnesota county attorneys were contacted to review the investigation and all declined.