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Former Duluth restaurant owner charged with child sex abuse

23December 2021

DULUTH — The owner of a recently shuttered West Duluth restaurant faces several felony child sex abuse charges.

William A. Kalligher, 61, was charged Wednesday with seven counts of criminal sexual conduct related to two minors, with allegations spanning more than a decade. A criminal complaint says a police investigation was launched last summer following “numerous sexual assault allegations.”

Kalligher owned the popular family-run Gannucci’s Italian Market, which appeared on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in 2014. Open since 1975 in various incarnations, the restaurant closed permanently this summer, and its contents were liquidated via an auction in August.

Charged in two separate cases, Kalligher faces 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.

A girl reported several incidents between 2018 and 2019 when Kalligher was high on marijuana, a complaint says, noting she was either 13 or 14 at the time. The complaint described included Kalligher removing her clothing and touching her body with his hands and mouth, and in some instances attempting to obtain oral sex from her. In a separate incident, between 2005 and 2006, Kalligher forced his penis into the mouth of a boy who was 9 or 10, the complaint said. Both minors were known to Kalligher.

“Kalligher wouldn’t have been apprehended without the victim-survivors being able to come forward and share their story,” the Duluth Police Department said in a statement.

The department’s Sex Crimes, Abuse and Neglect unit and investigations division handled the case.

Kalligher was convicted of contempt of court and disorderly conduct in 2004, stemming from a domestic assault charge.

“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 Victoria Wanta told the court in her bail request for Kalligher. “The history of these incidents show that the defendant’s actions have spanned over the course of more than a decade.”

Bail was set at $120,000. Kalligher’s next court appearance is Jan. 18.

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