Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell is currently on trial for two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with a relationship he carried on with a 17-year-old girl a couple years ago. (July 28 update -- A jury convicted Scannell of both counts.)
During testimony this week, Scannell, who in late 2011 was nearly shot to death in the Cook County Courthouse by a 42-year-old man who he'd just tried and convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, denied that the relationship ever progressed beyond kissing. The now 19-year-old girl, on the other hand, testified that Scannell, 48, touched her breasts and butt and pressured her to have oral sex with him at least once.
During her testimony, the girl recalled Scannell telling her, "I can get in trouble if there's penetration, but other than that, it's all OK to do," according to a Forum Communications report.
Because the age of consent in Minnesota is 16, prosecutors must show that Scannell was in a "position of authority" over the girl in order to secure a conviction. Scannell knew the girl since she was nine -- at one point she actually dated one of Scannell's sons -- and during her testimony, she described him as a mentor and father figure to her. Scannell argues the girl is exaggerating the role he played in her life.
During his own testimony, Scannell said he first felt attraction toward the girl during a college planning meeting with her at a school.
"She was just sitting there, and I thought, 'Holy shit. I'm in trouble. I'm attracted to (her),'" Scannell testified, according to a separate Forum report. "I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do."
He acknowledged accidentally touching the girl's breast once while the two were kissing.
"I was like, 'Whoa! That can't happen,'" Scannell testified, asked how he reacted to the alleged mishap.
The investigation into Scannell began in June 2012 when he pocket-dialed his sister in New Hampshire from a van he was in with the girl. Scannell's sister overheard an inappropriate interaction between the two and contacted authorities, who later brought the allegation to Scannell, setting in motion the chain of events that resulted in him being charged by a special prosecutor last October.
Scannell is still the sitting Cook County attorney but has been on medical leave since last fall. He's undergone a number of surgeries since he was shot multiple times in the courthouse and isn't seeking another term, meaning his tenure will end soon.
Scannell can deny intentionally touching the girl all he wants, but in light of racy emails released as evidence yesterday, he certainly can't deny he wanted to touch the girl, and wanted to touch her badly.
To see what we're talking about, click to page two.
Check these out (images via Northland Newscenter):
But in a November 2012 message, Scannell expressed remorse about the relationship (the girl was studying abroad in Spain at the time):