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Teenage Girl with Alleged Romantic Ties to Scannell Testifies

Updated: 07/22/2014 8:04 PM
Created: 07/22/2014 6:10 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
blesavage@wdio.com

Witnesses took the stand Tuesday as the trial for Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, who is charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl, began its second day at the St. Louis County Courthouse. 

The most notable of the four witnesses who testified was the now 19-year old girl who allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with Tim Scannell, who was 46 at the time. She described Tim Scannell as a "father-figure" and a "mentor."

"He looked out for me as a father would. He helped me with a lot of things," she said. 

When prosecuting attorney Tom Heffelfinger was questioning her, she outlined how she had met Tim Scannell and his family when she was in third grade. Tim Scannell was her tennis and soccer coach, guitar teacher and family friend, among other things, she said. 

The girl said Tim Scannell first admitted to her that he was romantically interested in her during spring 2012. She said toward the end of the summer, her relationship with Tim Scannell continued to evolve. She said he began meeting her at work and taking her on drives during her breaks. She said after some time, kissing and touching started happening during these meetings.

Around Aug. 1, 2012, she said she and Tim Scannell were parked in his car, and he touched her breasts over her clothing. Around Aug. 15, 2012, she testified he touched her breasts underneath her clothing. The girl said Tim Scannell then suggested sexual intercourse. The girl testified that she said no. 

"I knew that if I abruptly said we had to stop having this relationship, I believed he would be out of my life ... his family would be out of my life," she said.

The girl said it was important to her that she keep Tim Scannell in her life because of her close relationship with him and his family. She said she also believed he suffered from depression after he was shot in the Cook County Courthouse in December 2011. 

She said now that she has grown up, she is able to see the situation more clearly.

"I am mad sometimes. Most of the times, I'm just sad ... I really trusted that he only wanted what was best for me, and I believed that. I think he took advantage of that," she said.  

Tim Scannell's attorney Joe Tamburino said in his opening statement Tuesday that Tim Scannell, who is charged with two counts of 4th-degree criminal sexual misconduct, will testify during the trial.

Tamburino also said argued that Tim Scannell was not in a position of authority over the girl at the time of the act. Tamburino said for an act to be considered 4th-degree criminal sexual misconduct, the offender must be in a position of authority at the time of the act. Tamburino's argued Tim Scannell's authority over the girl had ended by the alleged act.

"In August of 2012 ... they kissed, they hugged, they snuggled. But there was no sexual contact," Tamburino said. 

Heffelfinger argued in his opening statement that Tim Scannell's position of authority over the girl was still in tact at the time of the alleged act and that Scannell had given the girl reason to trust him.

On June 8, 2012, Tim Scannell's sister, Tara Scannell, said she overheard a conversation between her brother and the girl that lead her to believe the relationship was inappropriate. 

"I was going to make sure something ... the girl got help somehow," Tara Scannell testified in court this morning. 

Tara Scannell said she waited until September 2012 to contact a K-12 counselor in the Cook County school system. The counselor, Brian Hackbarth, said he confronted Tim Scannell the next day. Hackbarth testified today that he then took Tim Scannell to meet with the girl's mother. The girl's mother said Scannell confessed at this meeting that he was in love with her daughter. 

The girl was studying in Spain at the time. Her mother had conversations with her husband about what Tim Scannell had told her. Scannell told the girl's mother and father that he would stop all contact with the girl following the confrontation. 

On Oct. 15, 2012, the girl's father verified that Tim Scannell was still contacting her while she was in Spain. It was around this time that the girl's mother said law enforcement was first made aware of the situation. At Thanksgiving, the girl's mother went to visit her in Spain and decided that it would be best if she come home early. 

The girl returned to the United States, and her mother filed for and was granted a restraining order against Tim Scannell on Dec. 4, 2012. 

Both parties sought legal advice and after a series of conversations with law enforcement and investigators, Tamburino said it was July 2013 before the girl spoke to law enforcement. The girl's mother said the girl had spoken with the family's lawyer.

A jury of 10 men and four women, two of those alternates, were chosen for the case. Witnesses are expected to take the stand again Wednesday as the trial is scheduled to continue throughout the week.  

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