Scannell Convicted on Both Counts

Updated: 07/25/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 07/24/2014 6:10 PM
By: Briggs LeSavage

A jury has convicted Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The verdict, announced at about 2:30 p.m., comes after about nine hours of deliberations Thursday and Friday.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 26. Defense Attorney Joe Tamburino said Scannell is likely facing probation and not time behind bars. He also said he and Scannell will likely appeal the jury's decision. 

Prosecuting attorney Tom Heffelfinger said the verdict is about moving forward for all parties.

"I believe that the victim, her family and the people of Cook County can move on with their affairs and put this chapter of their lives behind them," Heffelfinger said.

Tamburino said his party disagrees with the jury's verdict, but they respect it.

"I think it was a hard case to decide," Tamburino said. "I mean, on the one hand, everything that Mr. Scannell has suffered is tremendous. It's such a tragedy, but on the other hand, being the elected county attorney in a county of only 5,000 people makes this a very difficult case."

He said it will help Scannell move forward as well.

"Now that this has ended, he can move forward," Tamburino said. "This man in December 2011 was shot four times, thought he was going to die, wound up being physically OK, went through a tremendous amount of depression, PTSD, treatment centers and within one year of that, he's accused of a sex crime. You couldn’t write this. It's just very very tragic."

Scannell was on the witness stand for a total of about six hours Wednesday and Thursday, denying many of the allegations the now 19-year old woman made during testimony earlier in the week.

Heffelfinger says Scannell abused a position of authority when he kissed and allegedly sexually touched the then 17-year-old girl during drives they took in 2012.  Heffelfinger says 4th degree criminal sexual conduct happens when an offender is in a position of authority over the victim at the time of the act.

Scannell testified his mentorship roles had ended by the time of the alleged acts, and that he had no sexual intent in their meetings.

Heffelfinger used Scannell's own testimony against him in his closing statement.   Scannell said in his testimony, "I thoroughly and utterly and evilly betrayed (the girl's mother's) trust."  Heffelfinger said that statement was Scannell acknowledging his position of authority over the girl.

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

Scannell testified he didn't realize his actions hurt the girl until he saw her on the stand Wednesday.

Tamburino showed emails and messages from the girl to Scannell indicating these letters were a two way street.

Scannell became a statewide public figure after he was shot multiple times at the Grand Marais courthouse in December 2011 by a man he'd successfully prosecuted.

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