Chicago’s top prosecutor Kim Foxx releases 2,000 pages of Jussie Smollett documents and explains she recused herself from probe due to false rumors that she was related to the Empire star
- Chicago’s top prosecutor has released more than 2,000 pages of documents in Jussie Smollett’s case
- Friday’s statement from Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx comes two months after her office suddenly dropped all charges against Smollett
- The Empire actor was accused of staging a January attack on himself
- Foxx says rumors circulated that she was related to Smollett’s family, so she recused herself to avoid ‘even the perception of a conflict’
- Foxx said Friday: ‘The public’s trust is paramount to our work. That is why today I am releasing material above and beyond what is required’
Chicago’s top prosecutor has released more than 2,000 pages of documents in Jussie Smollett’s case and explained she recused herself from an investigation into the ‘Empire’ actor’s claim he’d been the target of a racist, anti-gay attack solely because of false rumors she was related to him.
Friday’s statement from Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx comes two months after her office suddenly dropped all charges against Smollett accusing him of staging the January attack on himself. The move was widely criticized.
Foxx says rumors circulated as suspicions grew about Smollett’s account of an attack that she was related to Smollett’s family, so she recused herself to avoid ‘even the perception of a conflict’.
Earlier explanations focused on communications between Foxx and a family member of Smollett’s.
Foxx’s statement Friday said: ‘This has been a unique case from the very beginning, where the victim became the suspect during the investigation. Allegations of a vicious homophobic and racially motivated attack shook our city and the nation with understandable anger and fear.
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Foxx’s statement Friday said: ‘This has been a unique case from the very beginning, where the victim became the suspect during the investigation. Allegations of a vicious homophobic and racially motivated attack shook our city and the nation with understandable anger and fear. Foxx is pictured on February 23 speaking to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago
Actor Jussie Smollett makes a court appearance at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on March 14. The charges were dropped against him on March 26
‘I did not have a conflict of interest in this case; only a sincere desire to serve the community. I spoke with Mr. Smollett’s family and others while he was still considered to be the victim of a hate crime in an effort to streamline the case and alleviate any concerns about the integrity of the investigation.
‘False rumors circulated that I was related or somehow connected to the Smollett family, so I removed myself from all aspects of the investigation and prosecution and delegated my authority and responsibility to my First Assistant so as to avoid even the perception of a conflict.
‘I regret that my attempts to this end created confusion outside the office. The public’s trust is paramount to our work. That is why today I am releasing material above and beyond what is required.
‘It is my sincere hope that this transparency and the ongoing investigation of the Cook County Independent Inspector General will provide guidance and lessons on how to serve you better. I am sorry that despite the best intentions, our efforts were less than what was required of the moment.’
The release of documents Friday evening came as offices closed for the weekend. A court last week lifted an order barring their release.
The release of Friday’s documents come a day after another batch of documents revealed that prosecutors told Chicago police detectives that a possible deal with the Empire actor was in the works a month before charges against him were dropped.
The 470 pages of files related to his case, which were only released on Thursday, show detectives investigating Smollett’s claim he was the victim of a hate crime were told by Cook County prosecutors a deal with Smollett could include a $10,000 fine and community service.
Detectives had met with a prosecutor at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office on February 28 to turn over their materials related to the investigation.
‘ASA Lanier informed detectives that she felt the case would be settled with Smollett paying the city of Chicago $10,000 in restitution and doing community service,’ the police report reads.
Smollett was charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he’d been the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack in January. Prosecutors dropped charges on March 26 without Smollett admitting guilt
At the time, Smollett had only been charged with one count of disorderly conduct. A week later, a grand jury charged him on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct.
Police now say that they were told by Lanier the original deal, for the single count, included an admission of guilt.
When prosecutors decided to drop all 16 charges with no admission of guilt, they were stunned.
The detectives were closing the case at that point because an arrest was made and the alleged offender was being prosecuted, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Thursday.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson then expressed outrage over the prosecutors’ decision.
At the time, Johnson said he learned of the deal prosecutors made with Smollett when the deal was announced by lawyers, adding he didn’t think justice was being served.
But the documents indicate that his detectives had been told by the prosecutors a few weeks prior.
The detectives had not passed the information to superiors.
‘They didn’t pass it on because they didn’t know it (the case) was going to be handled the way it was,’ the police spokesman said.
Police contend the black and openly gay actor staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity. He claimed he was attacked by Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has not commented.
Johnson said he stood by his department’s investigation.
‘My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the state’s attorney,’ Johnson said.
‘That’s what we did. I stand behind the detectives’ investigation.’
The city of Chicago is seeking $130,000 from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his reported beating.
The city claims about two dozen detectives and officers investigated the entertainer’s report that he was attacked, resulting in a ‘substantial number of overtime hours.’
The documents released Friday are below