Former Cretin Teacher's Trial has Star Power

Lawyers in the case of Gail Gagne, a legend's granddaughter, don't mind the spotlight.

By ROCHELLE OLSON1, Star Tribune

Last update: November 14, 2010 - 7:54 PM

A marquee judicial match comes this week with the sexual misconduct trial of a former teacher and weight-room supervisor at Cretin-Derham Hall High School.

The Hennepin County District Court case, expected to start with jury questioning Tuesday, pits a former star football player against the former teacher, Gail Gagne.

The charges allege that Gagne, then 25, had sex on a couple of occasions with the then-16-year-old student she supervised on a work-study program in the school's weight room during the summer of 2008.

Text messages and explicit photographs could be part of the case, although neither side has spoken publicly about the details.

One mystery may be cleared up: Charges weren't filed against Gagne until 2009, a time lapse that hasn't yet been explained. Nor has a witness list yet been submitted to Hennepin County District Judge Richard Scherer.

But the case won't lack for star power.

The lawyers on the case are skilled and experienced litigators. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judith Hawley is a veteran of high-profile cases who doesn't sweat a hard fight. She prosecuted former Minnesota Vikings' player Carl Eller for a 2008 fight with two police officers in his garage.

Representing Gagne is defense lawyer Earl Gray, usually described as flamboyant and always capable of Hollywood-style courtroom drama.

Gagne, formerly of Bloomington, comes from a famous Minnesota professional wrestling dynasty: Her father is Greg Gagne and her grandfather the legendary Vern Gagne.

She faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. She was hired by the school in November 2007 as an assistant basketball coach and worked as a substitute teacher from January through September 2008. She was then hired as a full-time teacher.

If Gagne is convicted, she will have to register as a predatory offender. But Gray said she wouldn't face prison, since she has a clean criminal history.

Neither Gray nor Hawley would comment on the upcoming trial. Scherer's file on the case is unusually slim; other than the charges, there is only a request from Gray for evidence from prosecutors.

Rochelle Olson 612-673-1747

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