While Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx publicly recused herself in the Jussie Smollett case, she continued to follow it and discuss it with staff.
Thousands of pages of texts and emails related to the Empire actor’s case were released by the State's Attorney's Office on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request. One text exchange saw Foxx telling the lead prosecutor on the case, Joseph Magats, that Smollett, whom she described as a “washed up celeb who lied to cops,” was being charged too harshly. Two weeks later, all the charges against the star were dropped.
"Sooo……I'm recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases…16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A," Foxx wrote before going on to compare Smollett’s case to the sex abuse charges against singer R. Kelly.
"Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts,” Foxx wrote. “Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16. On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it's indicative of something we should be looking at generally. Just because we can charge something doesn't mean we should."
Texts messages from State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to staff about two weeks before charges were dropped on Jussie Smollett.— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) April 16, 2019
Refers to Smollett as a “washed up celeb who lied to cops.”
Texts obtained through FOIA request. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/KWPKQzLQ8h
Smollett was arrested and charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about a hate crime. However, prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett — who has maintained his innocence — after he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and perform 16 hours of community service.
The charges being dropped came as a surprise not only to the public, but to top officials in Chicago, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called the turn of events a “whitewash of justice.” The city of Chicago has since sued Smollett for $130,106 to reimburse Chicago for overtime as police sought to verify Smollett's story.
There were protests against Foxx and her office after the charges were dropped. She later suggested that race was involved in the backlash.
Foxx had recused herself from the case in February after she had communications with one of Smollett’s relatives, saying she made the decision out of an abundance of caution. However, she later said she didn’t officially recuse herself. She issued a statement on Tuesday acknowledging the exchange.
Statement from State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. pic.twitter.com/GOgiunsNIX— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) April 17, 2019
There is an investigation into Foxx’s handling of the case — and these texts will be part of that.
Smollett, who is black and gay, reported that he was attacked by two masked men while walking in his neighborhood on Jan. 29. He said they made racist and homophobic slurs, assaulted him, poured a bleach-like substance on him and put a noose around his neck. However, police claimed that he actually paid brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo to stage the attack and did it because he was upset about his salary on Empire.
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