Trial of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell opens with jury selection 10:00 p.m.
DULUTH — Ten men and four women were selected Monday in Duluth to decide Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell’s sexual misconduct case.
Scannell, 48, is charged with two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct over a physical relationship he had with a 17-year-old girl in August 2012. He is accused of kissing and touching the girl sexually — allegations he has essentially conceded — but the case hinges whether he was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time.
Seven of Scannell’s family members, including his wife and two sons, were in the courtroom gallery Monday, seated immediately behind the defense table.
Scannell has been described as a family friend, coach and mentor to the alleged victim. He had known her for several years and helped her with her college plans.
The prosecution contends that Scannell was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of their sexual contact, making the acts illegal. However, the defense contends that the girl was of age, consented to the acts and was not under his influence at the time. That appears to be the core issue for the jury to decide.
Scannell gained notoriety in December 2011 after he was shot in the Cook County Courthouse by a man that was successfully prosecuted by his office for sexually assaulting minor girls. The accused shooter, Daniel Schlienz, died in custody before he faced charges.
The trial is a Cook County case, but the parties mutually agreed to move it to Duluth — about 110 miles from Grand Marais, where Scannell became a controversial figure after the relationship came to light in a harassment restraining order filed in late 2012.
Scannell has been on medical leave from the county for undisclosed reasons since October. He is completing his second four-year term as top prosecutor and legal advisor to the county. He is not seeking reelection.