Around Cook County
For the second time in three meetings, the ISD 166 school board meeting was held on an evening prior to a snowstorm. The announcement was made at the meeting that there will be school on the pre-scheduled makeup day of Friday, April 25 if school is closed the next day. Again, as expected, school was closed the following day and the makeup day will be used.
Community comment was notably absent from the April 3, 2014 meeting. The discussion of whether to close the campus during lunch period was again discussed. The board will be making a decision at their next meeting April 24. Board Member Ed Bolstad reiterated that he would like to see the school board take action to provide a safe environment for the students as well as lessen possible liabilities to the school.
Board member Ann Sullivan reviewed several pros and cons of open lunch, as well as a few different options available. The options ranged from leaving the policy as is, using open lunch as an incentive, to closing the campus for lunch altogether. She cited a national study by the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston that shows an increase in fighting, fatal car wrecks, mugging, substance abuse, arrests and sexual assaults occurring off campus during lunch periods.
Student driving behavior is also an issue being considered in the debate. Board Member Sissy Lunde spoke of witnessing poor judgment on the part of student drivers including a rear end accident in the school parking lot. Board member Deb White suggested a possible alternative could be to keep open lunch but not allow students to drive during the lunch period.
April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week—a time to recognize the efforts of volunteers at the local, state, and national levels. The residents and staff at the North Shore Care Center want to thank the dedicated volunteers for all the extraordinary things they do all year. The annual Volunteer Brunch will be held on May 28 this year.
The Arrowhead Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) had a total of 7,632 hours of service in Cook County last year. The RSVP hours served at the Care Center station totaled 917 hours. Great job!
There are volunteer opportunities for all ages at North Shore Care Center. For more information about activity programs or volunteer opportunities, please contact the Activity Department at 218.387.3518 or visit the website: www.nshorehospital.com.
The criminal case against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell can proceed to trial, a judge ruled Friday. According to the Duluth News Tribune, Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke denied a defense motion to toss out a grand jury’s indictment of Scannell on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and he ordered the parties to schedule a jury trial.
Scannell’s lawyer argued at a hearing last month that the prosecutor’s relationship with a 17-year-old girl was not illegal because he was not in a position of authority over her at the time of the alleged sexual contact. Scannell has been described as having been a family friend, coach, instructor and adviser to the girl over the years.
In a seven-page memorandum to his order, Floerke wrote that evidence presented to a Duluth grand jury in October sufficiently established probable cause to charge Scannell.
“The grand jury transcript shows that Defendant was in a position of authority at many different times in (the girl’s) life,” Floerke wrote. “It is less clear how much of a position of authority he was in with regard to (her) in August 2012. However, the legislature expanded the protection of potentially vulnerable minors by removing the requirement that the accused had to actually use their position of authority to commit the sexual act.”
Floerke also rejected the defense’s argument that special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger erred in the grand jury hearing by introducing a harassment order filed against Scannell by the girl’s parents in December 2012. The document served as necessary background information because it was the “trigger for the investigation,” Floerke wrote.
Heffelfinger commended the judge’s ruling Friday and said he is preparing for the case to go to trial.
“I’m very pleased with the judge’s order,” he said. “I think he did a nice job of summarizing the law and summarizing the facts as they were presented to grand jury related to Mr. Scannell’s position of authority over (the) victim.”
Heffelfinger said the case probably won’t be ready for trial until after Memorial Day.
After hearing arguments from defense and prosecution attorneys on March 27, St. Louis County District Court Judge Shaun Floerke said that he will make a ruling by April 11, 2014 as to whether there was probable cause for the grand jury indictment of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell on two felony charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. This afternoon, Floerke issued his decision—the indictment stands and the matter will proceed to trial.
Scannell, who has been on a medical leave of absence since October 15, 2013, was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor by a grand jury convened in Duluth on October 22, 2013. He first came under public scrutiny on December 4, 2012, after a local family asked for and received a harassment restraining order that called for him to refrain from having any contact with their 17-year-old daughter.
At the hearing, Cook County Special Prosecutor Thomas B. Heffelfinger argued that Scannell had intentionally engaged in sexual contact with the minor victim, who was, “at least 16 but under the age of 18 years of age,” and that Scannell was “more than 48 months older than the minor victim, and the defendant was in a position of authority over the minor victim.”
The age of consent in Minnesota is 16, but prosecutors can bring charges in special circumstances where the victim is younger than 18 and the adult is more than four years older.
Joseph Tamburino of Caplan & Tamburino, Scannell’s attorney, acknowledged that Scannell had been a family friend and a former tennis coach of the girl. However, he argued that any position of authority Scannell had over the teen ended months before the alleged sexual contact. Tamburino said a position of authority had to exist at the time of the acts, which he argued, did not exist in August 2012.
Cook County High School Prom is May 3. Got your dancing shoes ready but can’t afford a prom dress? Courtney Quaife is setting up a Prom Dress Swap that will take place Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais.
“Come and swap a dress for a dress, or if you don’t have a dress to swap, make a small donation and it’s yours,” said Quaife.
“No one will be turned down for the inability to pay for a dress,” she said.
Anyone with a former prom dress that they would like to donate is encouraged to do so.
“We will take donations or swap a dress for a gift card from a local businesses. All dresses are welcome. We are also taking costume jewelry and shoes. But please, only items that are in good shape,” said Quaife.
Anyone with a dress or dresses that they would like to donate, please contact Quaife at 218-370-1225.
“We would like to get a collection going before the event so there are some dresses to start off with,” Quaife said.