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Jury deliberating Scannell sexual misconduct case

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 4:32am

The case of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell who is accused of sexual misconduct with a teenage girl has gone to the jury.

WTIP’s Martha Marnocha reports the jury deliberated for over three hours before going home about 8 p.m. last night. The jury is not sequestered and will likely reconvene at 8:30 this morning.

Scannell is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Because the age of consent in Minnesota is typically 16, the jury was asked to decide whether Scannell was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of the acts.

Prosecuting attorney Tom Heffelfinger argued Scannell abused a position of authority when he kissed and allegedly touched the girl during drives they took in 2012. He questioned Scannell for nearly four hours.

The Duluth News Tribune reports in closing, Heffelfinger told jurors that either Scannell or the girl lied on the witness stand. He asked them to consider the credibility of each and consider who would benefit from lying. He concluded it would be Scannell.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino said Scannell was never directly given — or charged with — any parental responsibilities over the girl, making the acts distasteful and immoral but not illegal.

He argued that state statute defines an authority figure as a person “charged with any rights, duties and responsibilities of a parent.” He said Scannell was not “charged” with the care of the girl at the time of the acts, and any positions of authority he may have held ended before the acts.


Scannell testifies in misconduct trial

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 9:54am

Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, accused of sexual misconduct testified in his own defense yesterday and will be cross examined today.

Scannell is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Scannell said Wednesday in St. Louis County Court that he developed feelings for the girl in 2012. He admitted he kissed the girl multiple times but didn't intentionally touch her in a sexual way. He also said he thought she was too young.

According to WTIP’s Martha Marnocha, defense attorney Joseph Tamburino began his questioning of Scannell with a long recap of events leading up to the girl's family seeking a restraining order against Scannell to stop the relationship.

Tamburino included details of the courthouse shooting of Scannell in December of 2011 by Daniel Schlienz, his hospitalization, rocky recovery, subsequent PTSD, breakdown and treatment in an Arizona rehabilitation facility.

Prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger interrupted Tamburino with objections for “excessive recollecting.” He also objected several times to Scannell’s “rambling” testimony. From the beginning Scannell alternately cried and appeared aggressive during testimony, he was animated and frequently went off topic.

Scannell's attorney says his client acted inappropriately but not criminally. Today Heffelfinger will cross-examine Scannell and the case could go to the jury this afternoon.


The Heavenly Harp duo to perform at Bethlehem Lutheran Church July 25

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 5:40pm

The Heavenly Harp duo, featuring harpists Karin and Joy Gunderson along with other family members, will be giving a concert at 7 p.m. July 25 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Author of the book Encounters with Heaven: Stories of God’s Surprising Presence, Karin Gunderson will share stories of Divine Presence from her work as a hospice harpist and peaceful music with her family featuring harp, flute, and vocals.

Joy Gunderson, who at age 11 was already performing the Handel Harp Concerto, is now one of the top harpists in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. Gunderson, a graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with a church music degree, plays with professional mastery and sensitivity that will truly inspire you. In Minneapolis she studied harp with the Minnesota Orchestra’s harpist, Kathy Kienzle, who has won numerous awards in teaching harp. Gunderson won the Philharmonia Concerto Competition in her junior year of college and also had the honor of being chosen to play a concerto with the St. Olaf Orchestra her senior year.

There is no admission charge, but offerings are accepted. For more information, contact Bethlehem Church at 387-2227 or view   


North Shore Dragon Boat Festival starts with Parade of Teams July 25

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:27am

Ainslie Kincross, executive director for the North Shore Dragon Boat Festival, is excited about some of the new changes to the 2014 festival.

“We have more of a family emphasis this year,” said Kincross. “We would like to get more people in a dragon boat. Even the day of the event, people can still sign up. It’s much more participatory than in the past.”

“Fun equals people on the water,” said Greg Wright, executive director of the North House Folk School and one of the Dragon Boat Festival board members.

In its 11th year, the Dragon Boat Festival has become a stalwart event for Grand Marais and a strong fundraiser for three Cook County non-profits: WTIP Radio, the North Shore Health Care Foundation and the North House Folk School.

The three-day festivities run from July 25-27 and include a wide array of fun filled activities for everyone.

Visit the websit at for a complete schedule.

City Council moves forward with library rain garden project

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:26am

In an effort to curb flooding problems on the north side of the Grand Marais Public Library, city councilors moved forward with plans to design and construct a 570-square-foot rain garden in front of the building at their July 9 meeting.

City Administrator Mike Roth explained that in times of extreme rainfall, the water tends to pool behind the building. He said by improving the ditching on the east side of the library and creating a pathway for the water, the problem should be somewhat alleviated. However, Roth cautioned, the rain garden is not designed for a “large-scale event” and will help–-but not solve–-the problem.

Councilors reviewed a drawing prepared by the Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District of the proposed rain garden.

Although the city council elected to proceed with the project, final design work has yet to be done, along with the task of finding a steward to take care of the garden upon completion.

Mayor Larry Carlson asked Roth about the garden’s maintenance and cost, and Roth said the city and Soil & Water would pay for the construction, but it is imperative that a steward be enlisted for upkeep, as past experiences with rain gardens have shown that time and attention are directly proportional to attractiveness.

Councilor Tim Kennedy agreed, stating that a well cared-for rain garden, such as the one on West First Street near the library, is quite attractive, while a nearby one off the highway looks like a “bunch of brush.”

If a caretaker cannot be found, Roth said the rain garden could be as simple as a grassy depression that the city crews mow with the rest of the lawn. So at this point, Roth said it is not known what the garden will look like.

Teenage girl testifies in county attorney trial

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 8:51am

A teenage girl has testified in the trial of a northern Minnesota prosecutor accused of sexual misconduct.

The Associated Press reports witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell in St. Louis County Court. The 47-year-old is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with the girl.
The 19-year-old girl testified that Scannell kissed and sexually touched her in 2012, when she was 17.

WTIP’s Martha Marnocha reports the girl described him as a "father-figure" and a "mentor, helping her with a range of aspects” in her life. Her mother told jurors Scannell had been a family friend for 10 years and that she and her husband had been worried about Scannell’s “extreme interest” in the girl even before the relationship became known.

The young woman spent about three hours on the witness stand, fielding questions from special prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger about the nature of her relationship with Scannell. Judge Shaun Floerke sent jurors home at 5 p.m., putting cross-examination on hold until this morning.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino told jurors that Scannell would take the stand in his own defense.

Because the age of consent in Minnesota is 16 for most purposes, the prosecution must show that Scannell was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of their physical relationship in order to prove that a crime was committed.
The trial is scheduled to conclude by the end of the week.