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Gannucci's owner charged with sexually abusing children

The 61-year-old faces seven felony counts involving two minors over the course of more than a decade.

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The owner of the now-closed Gannucci's Italian Market in West Duluth has been charged with sexually assaulting two minors.

William Arthur Kalligher, 61, was arraigned Wednesday in State District Court on seven felony charges after the Duluth Police Department was alerted to "numerous sexual assault allegations" over the summer.

In one case, a victim reportedly told investigators that Kalligher had taken off her clothes and touched her body in an "explorational" way when she was approximately 13-14 years old. She said Kalligher would be "high on marijuana" at the time and that the touching occurred on at least three occasions, according to a criminal complaint.

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William Arthur Kalligher

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The victim additionally reported incidents in which Kalligher allegedly placed his mouth on her exposed genital and breast areas. The complaint states that he also attempted to have the victim perform oral sex on him, but she refused.

In the other case, the other victim reported an incident that occurred when he was approximately 9 or 10 in which Kalligher allegedly exposed himself and placed his genitals in the victim's mouth, according to a complaint.

Kalligher is charged in two separate cases with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

"Despite the defendant’s lack of criminal history, the state believes him to be a serious threat to those around him," St. Louis County prosecutor Vicky Wanta told the court. "The history of these incidents show that the defendant’s actions have spanned over the course of more than a decade."

Judge Shawn Pearson set bail at $120,000.

Kalligher worked as a professional cook and operated a refrigeration business before taking over the family-run Italian Village business at 301 N. Central Ave. in 2011. He turned it into Gannucci's, expanding the restaurant and store to critical acclaim, including a 2014 appearance on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."

But Kalligher, who had previously expressed plans to reopen the pandemic-shuttered business, quietly closed shop permanently by August — a decision confirmed only by a liquidation sale announced by an auction house.

Kalligher's criminal history is limited to disorderly conduct and contempt of court convictions in 2004. But he could now face significant prison time. For a first-time offender, a single conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a presumptive 12 years under state sentencing guidelines.

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"Kalligher wouldn’t have been apprehended without the victim-survivors being able to come forward and share their story," the police department said in a statement. "These victim-survivors showed strength and resilience to be able to hold Kalligher accountable for his actions."

This story was updated at 2:16 p.m. Dec. 22 with additional information on the investigation and Kalligher's arraignment. It was originally posted at 10:57 a.m. Dec. 22.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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